International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director General and CEO has said the rising tide of global protectionism is damaging for the air cargo industry.

Air cargo

Alexandre de Juniac hit out following the publication of the latest air freight demand figures from IATA, which hit a three-year low in February.

Year-on-year freight growth also fell for the fourth consecutive month.

Governments need to realize the damage being done by protectionist measures

“Nobody wins a trade war,” de Juniac said. “We all do better when borders are open to people and to trade.

“Governments need to realize the damage being done by protectionist measures.”

Freight demand, measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs), decreased 4.7% in February 2019, compared to the same period in 2018.

Freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometers (AFTKs), rose by 2.7% year-on-year. This was the 12th month in a row that capacity growth outstripped demand growth.

De Juniac said “cargo is in the doldrums” and that it was “difficult to see an early turnaround” due to a weakening of order books, falling consumer confidence and trade tensions affecting the industry.

Latin America was the only region not to report a decrase in year-on-year demand growth.

See the breakdown by region below:

  • Asia-Pacific airlines saw demand for air freight contract by 11.6% in February 2019, compared to the same period in 2018. Capacity decreased by 3.7%. 
  • North American airlines saw demand contract by 0.7% in February 2019, compared to the same period a year earlier. Capacity increased by 7.1%. 
  • European airlines experienced a contraction in freight demand of 1.0% in February 2019 compared to a year ago. Capacity increased by 4.0% year-on-year. 
  • Middle Eastern airlines’ freight volumes contracted 1.6% in February 2019 compared to the year-ago period. Capacity increased by 3.1%.   
  • Latin American airlines posted the fastest growth of any region in February 2019 versus last year with demand up 2.8%. Capacity increased by 14.1%.
  • African carriers saw freight demand decrease by 8.5% in February 2019, compared to the same month in 2018. Capacity grew 6.8% year-on-year.
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