IATA: airfreight demand dips slightly, but still up 9.2%

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IATA director general and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac speaking at the IATA WCS 2017

Airfreight demand fell slightly in September, but was still up 9.2 per cent on the same month last year, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reports.

Freight tonne kilometers or FTKs saw their slowest pace of growth seen in five months. However, it was still significantly higher than the five-year average growth rate of 4.4 per cent.

In September, Africa was up 17.7 per cent, Asia Pacific 9.3 per cent, North America 7.4 per cent, Europe 10.3 per cent, the Middle East 8.9 per cent and Latin America 7.6 per cent.

Freight capacity (measured in available freight tonne kilometers or AFTKs), rose by 3.9 per cent compared to September last year – less than half the pace of demand growth, which IATA says is positive for industry load factors, yields, and financial performance.

The association notes it appears that the industry has passed a cyclical growth peak. The upward trend in seasonally-adjusted freight volumes in the third quarter has eased and the inventory-to-sales ratio in the US is now trending sideways.

This indicates that the period when companies look to restock inventories quickly—which often gives air cargo a boost—has ended.

IATA’s director general and chief executive officer, Alexandre de Juniac says: “Demand for air cargo grew by 9.2 per cent in September. While that’s slower than in previous months, it remains stronger than anything we have seen in recent memory.

“But there are signs that this demand spurt may have peaked. So it becomes even more important to reinforce the industry’s competitiveness by accelerating the modernisation of its many antiquated processes.”

With year-to-date demand growth of 10.1 per cent, IATA says it forecast of 7.5 per cent growth in airfreight demand for 2017 appears to have significant upside potential even if the peak of the economic cycle has passed.