Air cargo demand has continued to grow at a robust rate following an exceptional year in 2017, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reports.
Demand measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTK) rose by eight per cent year-on-year in January, up from the growth of 5.8 per cent in December 2017.
The strong growth in January follows on from an exceptional year in 2017, when FTKs surged by nine per cent, the strongest growth since 2010.
IATA says the continued positive momentum reflects that demand drivers for air cargo remain supportive, with global demand for manufacturing exports remaining buoyant and meeting the stronger demand is leading to longer supply chain delivery times.
The association says demand for air cargo may strengthen as a result, with companies seeking faster delivery times to make up for longer production times.
IATA director general and chief executive officer, Alexandre de Juniac says: “With eight per cent growth in January, it’s been a solid start to 2018 for air cargo. That follows an exceptional year in which demand grew by nine per cent. We expect demand for air cargo to taper to a more normal 4.5 per cent growth rate for 2018. But there are potential headwinds.
“If President Trump follows through on his promise to impose sanctions on aluminium and steel imports, there is a very real risk of a trade war. Nobody wins when protectionist measures escalate.”
Africa had the strongest growth, up 12.9 per cent helped by freight demand between Africa and Asia jumping by 59 per cent following an increase in the number of direct flights driven by on going foreign investment flows into Africa.
Europe increased 10.5 per cent reflecting strong export orders among the region’s manufacturers.
Latin America was up eight per cent helped by demand picking up alongside economic recovery in Brazil.
Demand in Asia Pacific increased 7.7 per cent with strong demand by China and Japan, driven by a pick-up in economic activity in Europe.
North America rose by 7.5 per cent with the strength of the US dollar continuing to help imports, though IATA says this may be offset by the weakening in the dollar though the US tax reform bill is likely to support freight volumes.
The Middle East had the slowest growth of 4.4 per cent, with IATA saying the region’s carriers remain affected by the on going challenging political environment in the region.