IATA: Demand picks up in April but global trade is softening

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After a slow month in March, global airfreight picked up in April with freight tonne kilometres (FTK) rising 4.1 per cent, says the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The association says that demand in March fell to a 23-month low, down to 1.8 per cent, before picking up again in April but growth remains significantly slower than in much of 2017.

IATA says the weaker growth is primarily due to the end of the restocking cycle, during which businesses rapidly increase their inventory to meet unexpectedly high demand, consistent with demand drivers moving away from the highly supportive levels seen last year.

The Purchasing Managers’ Index for manufacturing and export orders fell in April 2018 to its lowest level since 2016.

A softening of global trade is also evident with containerised freight demand slowing in tandem with airfreight demand.

IATA director general and chief executive officer, Alexandre de Juniac says: “April saw a strengthening from the abrupt slowdown in growth experienced in March. This is good news. We remain cautiously optimistic that demand will grow in the region of four per cent this year.

“But the forecast appears to have increasing downside potential. Oil prices continue to rise as does protectionist rhetoric. Borders open to people and to trade drive economic growth and social prosperity. We are all disadvantaged when they are closed.”

Freight capacity measured in available tonne kilometres grew by 5.1 per cent in April 2018, the second time in 21 months that capacity growth outstripped demand growth.