Global airfreight demand continues slide, with 4.7% drop in April

Alexandre de Juniac, director general, IATA

Those hoping for a springtime turnaround in demand for worldwide airfreight got their hopes dashed today, as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) released its April 2019 cargo figures, showing that the global airfreight market continues to remain weak, with industry-wide freight tonne kilometers (FTKs) dropping by 4.7%, year-over-year, despite some bright spots regionally.

Regionally, Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Middle East were the worst performers, having decreased their FTKs by 7.4%, 6.2% and 6.2%, respectively. North America registered an anemic y-o-y FTK growth of just 0.1% in April. On the bright side, however, Latin America grew 5.0%, while Africa also grew by 4.4%, y-o-y.

Meanwhile, total airfreight capacity was up 2.6%, leading to a 3.5-percentage-point reduction in load factor to 46.3%.

According to IATA, ongoing escalation in the trade dispute between China and the United States is likely to weigh upon new export orders in the short term, but uncertainty regarding Brexit and a new British prime minister could result in an increase in export orders, as businesses stock up on inventory as a precaution.

“April saw a sharp decline in air cargo growth and the trend is clearly negative this year,” said Alexandre de Juniac, director general and CEO of IATA. “Cost inputs are rising, trade tensions are affecting confidence, and global trade is weakening. Airlines are adjusting their capacity growth to try and fall into line with the dip in global trade since the end of 2018.”

de Juniac concluded with a stern warning. “It all adds up to a challenging year ahead for the cargo business,” he said. “Governments should respond by easing trade barriers in order to drive economic activity.”

The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) also recently reported that its members had collectively registered a 9.1% year-on-year decline in FTKs for its member carriers in April 2019.

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