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Airfreight demand continues on the rise

By Staff Reports on January 9, 2014

There was a 6.1 percent growth in demand (measured in freight tonne kilometers) for airfreight in November 2013 over the same month in the previous year, according to the International Air Transport Association.

November’s performance is an improvement on the 4.4 percent year-over-year demand expansion recorded in October 2013. This continues an improvement trend in the weak air cargo markets, which have been developing over 2013.

All regions reported growth except for Latin America and Africa. The strongest performing region was the Middle East, where carriers reported a 16.5 percent improvement.

Asia-Pacific carriers, who account for some 40 percent of the market, reported 4.9 percent growth, more than doubling the 1.8 percent growth of October.

Healthy demand coupled with a slower expansion in capacity helped to improve the average load factor to 49.2 percent, which is 0.7 percentage points above November 2012.

“The November results are encouraging – particularly for carriers in the Asia-Pacific region,” Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO, said. “This good news is largely being driven by improving economic prospects in China along with an overall boost on Asian trade routes. The uptick is a welcome development in a weak-performing market. Overall volumes, when adjusted for seasonality, are still below the peaks reached in 2010 and 2011.”

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Regional differences in demand growth remain broad. Carriers in Latin America and Africa reported a slight year-on-year contraction as airlines in the Middle East continue to report double-digit growth.

Asia-Pacific carriers saw cargo demand grow by 4.9 percent in November compared to November 2012. The expansion was fueled by a rebound in Asian trade volumes and the improving Chinese economy. Stronger demand for Asian manufactured consumer goods in North America and Europe has also supported the rise in Asian trade and air cargo volumes.

The jump in demand among the Asia-Pacific carriers is a good indicator for broader airfreight improvements in the coming months.  


European airlines reported a demand expansion of 8 percent in November. The steady improvement in recent months has come as Europe pulled away from economic contraction in 2013. But the recovery in the Eurozone is likely to remain slow and fragile and the growth in the region has proved to be uneven across countries.

North American carriers reported a 2.5 percent year-over-year improvement in freight demand. Business activity indicators in the manufacturing sector have been improving in recent months, recovering from any adverse effects of the government shutdown in October 2013. Nonetheless, the outlook remains challenging. Rates of expansion are considerably lower than they were at the beginning of 2013.   


Middle Eastern carriers reported the strongest performance with a 16.5 percent growth in demand. Carriers in the Middle East have benefited from improvements in advanced economies, including better demand in Europe, as well as solid economic and trade growth in the Gulf area. The trend is likely to continue with indicators showing record high export orders in the United Arab Emirates, which bodes well for continued growth in the region’s trade volumes.

Latin American airlines experienced a slight decline in cargo demand of 0.1 percent. However, the growth rate of 3.2 percent during the first 11 months of 2013 is the second-fastest among the regions. Airfreight demand has been supported by solid growth in Latin American trade volumes, but contained by the sluggish performance of Brazil, the region’s largest market. 


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