The industry continues to face significant headwinds, with global trade volumes having fallen by 1% over the past year.

Freight growth

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has welcomed the news that air freight demand increased in March.

Demand, measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs), rose slightly by 0.1% but was a significant improvement on February’s year-on-year results which saw a drop in demand of 4.9%.

Freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometers (AFTKs), rose by 3.1% year-on-year in March 2019. Capacity growth has now outstripped demand growth for 11 out of the last 12 months.

After four consecutive months of contraction, this is an encouraging development

“Year-on-year demand for air freight edged back into positive territory in March with 0.1% growth. After four consecutive months of contraction, this is an encouraging development,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA's Director General and CEO.  

“But the headwinds from weakening global trade, growing trade tensions and shrinking order books have not gone away.” 

Demand for air cargo continues to face significant headwinds, with global trade volumes having fallen by 1% over the past 12 months.

Compounding matters, global economic activity and consumer confidence continue to weaken, while export orders also remain on the wane according to the Purchasing Managers Index.

Despite the worries surrounding the outlook, industry confidence remains upbeat with only 13% of respondents from IATA’s Business Confidence Survey expecting to see a decrease in freight volumes in 2019 compared to 2018.

See the breakdown by region below: 

  • Asia-Pacific airlines saw demand for air freight shrink by 3.4% in March 2019, compared to the same period in 2018. Capacity decreased by 1.0%.  
  • North American airlines saw demand increase by 0.4% in March 2019, compared to the same period a year earlier. Capacity increased by 2.6% over the past year. 
  • European airlines posted a 3.6% increase in freight demand in March 2019 compared to the same period a year earlier. Capacity increased by 6.4% year-on-year. 
  • Middle Eastern airlines’ freight volumes increased 1.3% in March 2019 compared to the year-ago period. Capacity increased by 3.8%.  
  • Latin American airlines experienced an increase in freight demand growth in March 2019 of 3.6% compared to the same period last year and capacity increased by 16.9%. 
  • African carriers posted the fastest growth of any region in March 2019, with an increase in demand of 6.0% compared to the same period a year earlier. Capacity grew 15.2% year-on-year.
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