Air cargo demand growth eased in 2018 after a strong 2017 reflecting slowing export activity amid increasing uncertainty over international trade policies, according to the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA).
International air cargo demand as measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTK) grew by 3.9 per cent in 2018, moderating somewhat compared with the strong 9.6 per cent increase registered in the previous year.
Offered freight capacity for the year grew by 6.6 per cent, outpacing demand. As a result, the average international freight load factor for the year 2018 declined by 1.6 percentage points to 63.3 per cent.
AAPA director general, Andrew Herdman said: “Whilst international air cargo demand recorded an encouraging 3.9% increase for the full year, growth slowed significantly in the closing months of the year as business confidence in the global manufacturing sector weakened in response to trade policy tensions.”
“Overall, in 2018, the region’s airlines benefitted from robust growth in passenger traffic and further expansion in cargo demand. Higher average airfares and record high load factors lifted passenger yields after several years of declines. Cargo yields also firmed slightly despite falling load factors.
“However, cost pressures continued to increase, with higher fuel expenditure driven by a 30% increase in jet fuel prices which averaged US$85 per barrel for the year, despite falling back significantly towards the end of the year.”
Looking ahead, Herdman said: “Whilst expectations of continued moderate growth in the global economy should lend further support to travel markets in the coming months, there are some downside risks including weakness in trade activity and potential erosion in business and consumer sentiment.
“The region’s airlines are alert to such factors which may affect the market environment, but remain focused on cost management, and investing in future growth opportunities.”