IATA: 3.5% growth in 2018 despite demand softening

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IATA director general and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac

The global airfreight market grew by 3.5% in 2018 despite softening demand resulting in a fall in December, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The growth in freight tonne kilometres was significantly lower than 2017, when it was 9.7%, with performance being sealed with a fall of 0.5% in December, the worst performance since March 2016.

International e-commerce grew in 2018 but there was softening demand due to the restocking cycle where businesses rapidly built up inventories ending in early 2018, global economic activity weakening, export orders contracting in the second half of 2018, and consumer confidence falling.

Capacity rose by 5.4% in 2018, outpacing growth in demand, and it grew by 3.8% in December, the 10th month in a row that capacity growth outstripped demand growth.

Alexandre de Juniac, director general and CEO of IATA says air cargo demand lost momentum towards the end of the year but still grew by 3.5%.

He says: “We are cautiously optimistic that demand will grow in the region of 3.7% in 2019. But with the persistence of trade tensions and protectionist actions by some governments there is significant downside risk. Keeping borders open to people and to trade is critical.”

De Juniac adds: “To attract demand in new market segments, the air cargo industry must improve its value proposition. Enabling modern processes with digitalisation will help build a stronger foothold in e-commerce and the transport of time- and temperature-sensitive goods such as pharmaceuticals and perishables.”