Air cargo steps up after slow December
Airfreight growth rose in January compared to January 2013, according to the International Air Transport Association.
Global freight tonne kilometers (FTKs) rose 4.5 percent in year over year. This is a significant acceleration over the 2.2 percent year-over-year growth rate in December 2013, and is well above the 1.4 percent full-year growth reported for 2013 as compared to 2012.
Growth was solid across all regions, with Middle Eastern carriers growing the fastest.
"The improvement in demand is good news. It is a step up in pace from the mild strengthening that we saw towards the second half of 2013. And in real terms, volumes are similar to the 2010 post-recession peak. But there is also ample reason to be cautious. Protectionist measures are part of the reason for a slower expansion of world trade than we would expect from current levels of industrial production. Companies continue to reorganize supply chains in their efforts to move manufacturing on-shore," Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO, said.
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- Asia-Pacific carriers grew by 3.8 percent compared to January 2013. Trade volumes in the region have rebounded as demand from Europe and North America for Asian manufactured goods improves. However, latest indicators show that the Chinese economy could be slowing down, which would affect air cargo in the coming months. In addition, with Chinese New Year falling on Jan. 31, there may be some effect on February volumes. Capacity grew faster than demand at 9.7 percent
- European airlines continued the momentum established in the second half of 2013, recording a 6 percent rise in FTKs compared to the previous January. Surveys of business activity in the Eurozone show the strongest rate of increase in 2.5 years. If these feed through into trade volume growth, then it should be positive for European air cargo in the coming months. Capacity was up just 3.8 percent.
- North American airlines reported the weakest rise in volumes, just 0.7 percent, reflecting subdued January business activity. But the underlying trend of manufacturing in the U.S. is positive, which should lead to an increase in exports. Capacity fell 0.9 percent.
- Middle Eastern carriers grew 10.7 percent year over year. Volumes grew on the back of the growth in Europe and other regions. In addition, carriers in the region continue to expand their networks and capacity. Capacity growth, though, remained broadly in line with demand, increasing 11.5 percent.
- Latin American carriers recorded solid growth of 6.8 percent, a welcome improvement after the slow growth of 2.4 percent in 2013. Expected growth in trade volumes should underpin further cargo expansion. But weakness in Brazil, Latin America’s largest economy, could dampen the growth potential in the region. Capacity fell 0.6 percent.
- African airlines grew ahead of the average trend in 2013, reporting a 4.1 percent rise in FTKs. With signs of growth slowing in South Africa and other major regional economies, freight growth could still be sluggish over the next few months. Capacity grew almost in line with demand, expanding 3.9 percent compared to January 2013.
“This positive start to the year will set an upbeat tone for the World Cargo Symposium next week,” Tyler said. “The key objective for this year must be for cargo airlines, shippers and freight forwarders to seize opportunities to improve the industry’s value proposition. They can do this by investing in new quality procedures to improve the efficiency, security and reliability of airfreight. The E-freight program for paperless shipments is essential for that, and the new quality benchmarking process, which we will reveal at next week’s symposium, is vital for improving quality across the board.”