Global freight tonne kilometers were up 1.2 percent in July year-on-year, slightly better than the 0.9 percent year-on-year increase recorded in June, as growth in Europe and the Middle East offset weakness in Asia.
As a result of the July performance, airfreight volumes are at their highest level since mid-2011. Capacity increased 3.4 percent compared to July 2012, pushing load factor down to 43.3 percent. However, load factors have stabilized compared to earlier in 2013.
“The growth is encouraging, particularly in Europe. However, it is premature to say that air cargo may be emerging from the doldrums of the past 18 months. The weakness in Asia-Pacific freight markets and the deteriorating political situation in parts of the Middle East give ample reason for continued caution,” Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO, said.
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Airlines in Europe, the Middle East and Latin America contributed to the improved performance compared to a year ago.
Asia-Pacific carriers’ cargo demand fell compared to July 2012, while capacity climbed 2.6 percent. Asia-Pacific airlines have seen airfreight contract 2.1 percent through the first seven months of 2013, the largest decline among regions.
Business activity in China remains sluggish, and emerging Asia trade volumes shrunk almost 5 percent in the first half of the year.
European carriers experienced an increase in FTKs in July, while capacity climbed 3.5 percent. July was the second consecutive month in which airfreight demand increased.
But questions remain regarding the Eurozone’s ability to sustain growth. Although the Eurozone’s 18-month recession ended in the second quarter, performance among countries varies widely, with Portugal, Germany and France leading the expansion and Italy, Spain and the Netherlands showing contraction.
North American airlines had another month of weak demand for airfreight. Signals out of the U.S. are mixed. July’s performance represented a decline compared to June, but month-on-month growth rates have been especially volatile and recent indicators suggest rising business confidence, in line with an improving economy.
Middle East airlines led all regions. Capacity climbed 11.1 percent. Year-to-date demand was up 11.7 percent. The Middle East was one of just two regions in which airlines saw demand growth exceed capacity growth. Part of the rise in year-on-year growth rates in July owes to the timing of Ramadan, which took place mostly in July, while in 2012, most of the holiday occurred in August. Ramadan typically gives a boost to air freight demand for Middle Eastern carriers.
Latin American carriers’ cargo traffic was up with capacity increased by just 1.7 percent. This result was broadly in line with the region’s performance during the first seven months of the year.
African airlines experienced a contraction in July year over year. Despite a relatively supportive demand environment, airlines in the region continue to face intense competition.