Following growth of almost 10% in 2017, airfreight demand slowed in 2018 but still increased by 4.5%, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) reports.
Scheduled freight traffic measured in freight tonne kilometres grew by 4.5% compared to 9.5% in 2017.
Airfreight had picked-up sharply during the inventory restocking in 2017, before moderating in 2018 as demand drivers softened, which was impacted by the trade tension and declining import and export orders.
The international segment of freight traffic, which represents 87% of airfreight, grew by 4.6% while the scheduled international freight load factors remained at a similar to 2017, at around 55%.
Average jet fuel prices increased by 31% in 2018 compared to 2017 but remained lower than the prices observed for the 10 years prior to 2015.
The low fuel cost coupled with a solid increase in traffic helped airlines to maintain relatively high levels of profits, though slightly lower than 2017.
The airline industry is expected to end 2018 with operating profits of around $57 billion and an operating margin of 7%.
Net profits are expected to be around $34 billion with nearly half of this being generated by carriers in North America.