IATA: Air cargo flying after strongest year since 2010

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Airfreight demand grew at its fastest rate since 2010, with freight tonne kilometres (FTK) increasing nine per cent in 2017, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reports.

The growth in 2017 was more than double the rate in 2016 and was sealed by solid results in December, when demand grew by 5.7 per cent, which was less than half the annual growth rate seen in the middle of the year, it was still considerably higher than the five-year average of 4.7 per cent.

Capacity measured in available freight tonne kilometres rose by three per cent in 2017, the slowest rate since 2012, and load factors were up 2.5 percentage points to 45.5 per cent.

IATA director general and chief executive officer, Alexandre de Juniac says: “Air cargo had its strongest performance since the rebound from the global financial crisis in 2010. Demand grew by nine per cent. That outpaced the industry-wide growth in both cargo capacity and in passenger demand.

“We saw improvements in load factors, yields and revenues. Air cargo is still a very tough and competitive business, but the developments in 2017 were the most positive that we have seen in a very long time.”

He says the outlook for 2018 is optimistic, and though demand is unlikely to grow as quickly again, e-commerce and temperature and time sensitive goods are likely to remain strong.

De Juniac says: “We still expect a very healthy 4.5 per cent expansion of demand in 2018. Challenges remain, including the need for industry-wide evolution to more efficient processes. That will help improve customer satisfaction and capture market share as the expectations of shippers and consumers grow ever more demanding.”

Africa posted the strongest growth among all regions, up 24.8 per cent, which is only the second time since 1990 that African airlines have topped the charts, with Africa-Asia trade increasing by more than 64 per cent.

European airlines were up 11.8 per cent with trade increasing rapidly to all areas of the world excluding Africa, and manufacturers’ exports orders growing at their fastest pace on record.

Demand in the Middle East increased 8.1 per cent in 2017 but IATA says the region’s carrier’s share of global demand dropped for the first time in 18 years.

North American airlines registered growth of 7.9 per cent with the strength of the US economy and the US dollar helping imports, and the US tax reform bill may help support freight volumes in 2018 though could be offset by the weakening in the dollar.

Asia Pacific grew by 7.8 per cent with strong exports from China and Japan driven by a pick-up in demand in Europe and solid performance from the US.

Latin American carriers saw their first increase in annual demand in two years, with growth of 5.7 per cent helped by economic recovery in Brazil.