Global air freight markets showed continued robust growth in air cargo volumes in August, according to the latest data from The International Air Transport Association (IATA). Measured by freight-tonne-kilometers (FTKs), volumes rose 5.1% in August 2014, compared to August 2013, while capacity grew at a slower pace of 3.4% from the previous year. This is the second consecutive strong month for cargo volumes, following the 6.1% year-on-year rise recorded in July.
“The outlook for air cargo is clearly getting better. However, there are some limiting factors on the extent of potential gains. Demand for air cargo is growing more slowly than global economic activity,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO. “Businesses are reported to have more confidence in the future, but the list of political and economic risks continues to moderate how that confidence translates into actual activity.”
Carriers in all regions reported an expansion in volumes. African airlines led the pack with the strongest growth of air cargo demand – 9.2% year-on-year – with capacity growth of 4.2%. Although this is the second consecutive month of strong growth, the volatility of African data, coupled with the slowdown in key African economies such as South Africa, IATA said it is too soon to understand the extent to which this represents a real and sustainable acceleration.
Middle Eastern carriers enjoyed cargo growth of 7.8%, although the pace was a little below the year-to-date average of 9.6%. The Middle East continues to expand strongly on its growing links to developing markets, as well as diversifying into important commodities such as perishables. Capacity was up 6.0%.
Asia Pacific carriers grew 6.3% and capacity expanded by 4.4%, continuing the acceleration of recent months. Emerging Asia trade volumes have expanded volumes solidly in June and July. A notable rise in Chinese export orders bodes well for future demand growth, IATA said.
North American carriers increased air freight volumes by a solid 5.5% compared to a year ago. A rebound in business activity following the weakness in the first quarter and positive underlying economic growth trends should support stronger growth in the coming months, IATA said. Capacity, however, fell slightly, by 0.4%.
European airlines grew by just 1.4%, while capacity expanded by 4.8%. Economic activity within the Eurozone continues to deteriorate, IATA noted, although the latest data does show a moderate pick-up in imports and exports. EU sanctions as a result of the Russia-Ukraine crisis also continue to affect demand, the group added.
Latin American airlines saw air cargo grow by a sluggish 1.1%, compared to August 2013, while capacity rose sharply to 7.6%. The weakness in Latin American freight volumes reflects declines in regional trade activity and the anemic performance of the Brazilian economy, IATA concluded.
(For more information on the return of air freight demand and economic analysis of IATA figures, see the “Air Freight Update – Cargo Regains Altitude” session at the upcoming Cargo Facts Aircraft Symposium, held Oct. 22-24 in Miami. For more information, or to register, visit the Symposium website.)