Airfreight demand was flat in November, the slowest rate of growth since March 2016, following 31 consecutive months of increases, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reports.
Demand in freight tonne kilometres was 0% in November and while e-commerce continues to grow, IATA says there are signs of weakness in global economic activity, a contract in export order books, shorter supplier delivery times in Asia and Europe, and weakened consumer confidence compared to the start of 2018.
Capacity in available freight tonne kilometres outstripped demand for the ninth month in a row, growing by 4.3% in November, with global load factors down 2.2 percentage points to 51.5%.
Alexandre de Juniac, director general and CEO of IATA says: “Normally the fourth quarter is a peak season for air cargo. So essentially flat growth in November is a big disappointment. While our outlook is for 3.7% demand growth in 2019, downside risks are mounting. Trade tensions are cause for great concern. We need governments to focus on enabling growth through trade, not barricading their borders through punitive tariffs.”
Around the world, Asia Pacific, Europe and Africa all contracted while North America, the Middle East and Latin America all reported year-on-year growth.
Asia Pacific was down 2.3%, the first decline since May 2016 due to weaker manufacturing conditions for exporters and shorter supplier delivery times.
Europe dipped 0.2% with weaker manufacturing conditions for exporters and shorter supplier delivery times particularly in Germany.
African demand was down 7.8%, the eighth time in 9 months demand has contracted due to weakness to and from all key markets.
North America had the fastest growth for the second consecutive month with demand increasing 3.1% due to the strength of the US economy and high consumer spending.
The Middle East was up 1.7% due to stronger trade with Europe and Asia, though capacity increased 7.8%.
Latin American demand increased 3.1% but key markets were showing signs of weakness, particularly on routes to and from Europe.