Demand across global air freight markets rose two per cent in September compared to the same month last year, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reports.
The association said the growth figure, which is measured freight tonne kilometers (FTKs) was relatively unchanged from the previous month but was less than half the five-year average growth rate of 5.1 per cent.
Regionally in September, Africa FTKs fell 2.1 per cent, Asia Pacific was up 1.2 per cent, Europe up 1.5 per cent, Latin America up 2.9 per cent, the Middle East was the strongest growth region at 6.6 per cent and North America was up 1.5 per cent.
Freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometers (AFTKs), grew by 3.2 per cent year-on-year in September 2018. This was the seventh month in a row that capacity growth outstripped demand. Yields, however, appear to be holding up.
IATA said weak growth is being supported by strong consumer confidence, a robust global investment environment and the expansion of international e-commerce.
The association said the air cargo sector is, however, being weighed down by a softening of key demand drivers as there has been a global contraction in manufacturing firms’ export order books – the first since June 2017. Specifically, export order books contracted in all the world’s major exporting nations in September with the exception of the USA.
Longer supplier delivery times are also being reported by manufacturers in most of Asia and Europe, the top two global trading areas by volume. This typically means that they have less need for the speed afforded by air freight.
IATA’s director general and chief executive officer, Alexandre de Juniac (pictured above) said: “Demand for air cargo grew two per cent in September – well below the five year average of 5.1 per cent. Weakening order books and longer delivery times are undercutting the need for air freight in many traditional markets. But there is also some positive news.
“For example, strong consumer confidence goes hand-in-hand with expanding international e-commerce trade to give air cargo a boost. The bigger message for the sector is the need to modernize processes. There is some progress with the electronic air waybill becoming the default document on enabled trade lanes from 2019. But there is much more that must be done with governments and the supply chain to bring air cargo processes into the modern era.”