Air freight demand shows strong growth

24 August 2017

Demand for air freight showed the strongest growth in the first half of 2017 since 2010, when it was rebounding from the global financial crisis, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

IATA said demand grew by 10.4% in the first half of 2017 compared to the same period of 2016 – nearly triple the industry’s average growth rate of 3.9% over the last five years. Freight capacity grew by 3.6%.

“The sustained growth of air freight demand is consistent with an improvement in global trade, with new global export orders remaining close to a six-year high,” said IATA.

“However, there are some signs that the cyclical growth period may have peaked. The global inventory-to-sales ratio has stopped falling.

“This indicates that the period when companies look to restock inventories quickly, which often gives air cargo a boost, may be nearing an end.”

However, IATA said regardless of these developments, the outlook for air freight is optimistic and it expects demand to grow by 8% during the third quarter of this year.

From a regional perspective, African carriers’ freight volumes were up 25.9% in the first half of 2017 compared to the same period of 2016, the fastest expansion of all regions, driven by strong growth on trade lanes to and from Asia.

Volumes for carriers in Asia Pacific grew by 10.1%, while in North America they grew 9.3%, with the strong dollar boosting inward freight but squeezing exports.

In Europe volumes grew 13.6%, stimulated by the weak euro, while in the Middle East they rose 7.6%. This is down on the Middle East’s annual average of 10.8%, but this is due to competition from carriers in other regions rather than a drop in demand, said IATA.

Latin American carriers saw volume growth of 0.3%, as the region “continues to be blighted by weak economic and political conditions”.

Carriers in Asia Pacific and Europe accounted for two-thirds of the overall increase in demand. 

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