Protectionist measures and trade tensions across the world continue to pose problems for air cargo.

air cargo

Air freight demand fell in January, the latest year-on-year figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) show.

“Air cargo markets contracted in January. This is a worsening of a weakening trend that started in mid-2018,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA's Director General and CEO. 

“Unless protectionist measures and trade tensions diminish there is little prospect of a quick re-bound.”

Measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs), demand decreased by 1.8% in January, compared to the same period in 2018. It is the worst performance in three years.

Unless protectionist measures and trade tensions diminish there is little prospect of a quick re-bound

Meanwhile, capacity—measured in available freight tonne kilometers (AFTKs)—outstripped demand for the 11th month in a row, growing by 4.0% year-on-year.

Cargo demand continues to face significant challenges, including a weakening in global economic activity and lower consumer confidence.

In addition, the Purchasing Managers Index for manufacturing and export orders has indicated falling global export orders for the past four months.

Regional performance saw North America and Africa post year-on-year demand growth in January. Latin America held flat, while Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Middle East all contracted.

See the breakdown by region below:

  • Asia-Pacific airlines saw demand for air freight shrink by 3.6% in January 2019, compared to the same period in 2018. Capacity increased by 4.1%.
  • North American airlines posted the fastest growth of any region for the eighth consecutive month in January 2019, with an increase in demand of 3.3% compared to the same period a year earlier. Capacity increased by 5.0%.
  • European airlines experienced a contraction in freight demand of 3.1% in January 2019 compared to a year ago. Capacity increased by 2.8% year-on-year.
  • Middle Eastern airlines' freight volumes contracted 4.5% in January 2019 compared to the year-ago period. Capacity increased by 4.1%.
  • Latin American airlines' freight demand was flat (0.0%) in January 2019 versus last year. Despite the economic uncertainty in the region, a number of key markets are performing strongly. Capacity decreased by 0.7%.
  • African carriers saw freight demand increase by 1.0% in January 2019, compared to the same month in 2018. Capacity grew 8.2% year-on-year. 
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