27 March 2009 | Martha McKenzie-Minifie
International air freight volumes were down more than 20 per cent last month compared with the same time last year, according to latest figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Traffic statistics for February - released yesterday - recorded international freight volumes at more than 20 per cent below the previous year's levels for the third consecutive month.
Giovanni Bisignani, IATA director general and chief executive, said in a statement freight traffic began its decline in June 2008 before passenger markets were hit.
"It has now had three consecutive months in the -22 per cent to -23 per cent range," said Bisignani. "We may have found a bottom to the freight decline, but the magnitude of the drop means that it will take time to recover."
A collapse in international trade in goods and lower shipment of components by manufacturers were cited as factors.
Shipping - and other forms of freight - have also seen drops in volumes, with falling demands pushing down prices (News, 19 March).
The IATA figures showed Middle Eastern carriers had the smallest fall in cargo demand last month, down 4.8 per cent on February last year.
They showed African carriers had the worst performance, down 30.7 per cent in international freight traffic.
Asian carriers - the largest players in cargo - saw demand fall by 24.7 per cent, IATA reported, as the region's high-value, export-dependant industries were hard hit by falling consumer demand in the major markets of Europe, the US and Japan.