Worldwide demand for airfreight should expand by 4.5 percent in 2015, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), besting the expected rise in world trade by one-half percent. However, IATA CEO Tony Tyler cautioned that, while he is optimistic, other factors such as political risk and macro-economics could impact trade flow.
IATA released strong air cargo demand figures for November 2014, due in part to a healthy rise in world trade. The stagnation in the air cargo industry that began in 2011 was met with strong growth in international trade in the second half of 2014, while domestic production of goods remained stable.
For the peak-season figure from November, IATA reported that airfreight demand, measured in freight-tonne-kilometers (FTK), rose by 4.2 percent, compared with November 2013, which was also a robust month for FTKs.
This global rise in demand came overwhelmingly from the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions, representing 93 percent of worldwide growth in November. Asia-Pacific carriers captured 55 percent of the global FTK growth, with a market share of 39.7 percent, while the Middle East region accounted for 38 percent, with a market share of 13.3 percent.
Meanwhile, freight capacity grew by 3.3 percent, year over year, in November 2014. Compared to October 2014, airfreight demand in November grew by 0.8 percent.
By region, Middle Eastern carriers had the highest year-over-year growth in November, at 12.9 percent, followed by a 10.5 percent rise among African airlines. Load factors in the African region improved as capacity was down by 2.9 percent. Asia-Pacific airlines, reported a 5.9 percent increase in FTKs, as well as a 4 percent increase in capacity.
European carriers saw only a small 0.9 percent rise in FTKs, with capacity increasing by 2.6 percent. The EU continues to sputter due to concerns over the euro and economic sanctions against Russia.
Not every region enjoyed November growth, however. In North America, carriers saw a decline of 0.3 percent in FTK, along with a drop in capacity of 2.6 percent, even though port strikes by ILWU workers created more demand for airfreight. The U.S. economy should support a return to growth, IATA predicted.
Latin American airlines saw FTKs fall by 0.7 percent, reflecting economic weaknesses across the continent, particularly in Brazil and Argentina. Capacity in the region was reduced by 0.5 percent.