Cargo continued its positive trajectory in the first month of 2018 as demand grew by eight per cent, according to figures released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Freight tonne kilometres (FTKs) rose in January 2018 compared to the year-earlier period and it was up on the 5.8 per cent annual growth recorded in December 2017.
Freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometres (AFTKs), rose by 4.2 per cent year-on-year in January 2018.
The freight load factor for the total market was 43.3 per cent, up 1.5 per cent. In Africa it was 24.6 per cent, Asia Pacific 52.4 per cent, Europe 45.4 per cent. Latin America 30.5 per cent, the Middle East 41 per cent and North America 36.3 per cent.
IATA said the continued positive momentum in freight growth into 2018 reflects the fact that demand drivers for air cargo remain supportive. Global demand for manufacturing exports is buoyant and meeting this strong demand is leading to longer supply chain delivery times.
The association said demand for air cargo may strengthen as a result, with companies seeking faster delivery times to make up for longer production times.
IATA’s director general and chief executive officer, Alexandre de Juniac (pictured above) said: “With eight per cent growth in January, it’s been a solid start to 2018 for air cargo. That follows an exceptional year in which demand grew by nine per cent. We expect demand for air cargo to taper to a more normal 4.5 per cent growth rate for 2018. But there are potential headwinds.
“If President Trump follows through on his promise to impose sanctions on aluminum and steel imports, there is a very real risk of a trade war. Nobody wins when protectionist measures escalate.”
Regionally, IATA said Asia-Pacific airlines saw demand in freight volumes grow YOY by 7.7 per cent in January 2018 and capacity increase by 2.2 per cent, which it said “largely reflects the ongoing strong demand experienced by the region’s major exporters” – China and Japan.
North American freight volumes expanded 7.5 per cent in January 2018 as capacity increased 4.2 per cent while further south, Latin American airlines experienced a growth in demand of eight per cent in January. Capacity increased 5.4 per cent and the pick-up in demand comes alongside signs of economic recovery in the region’s largest economy, Brazil.
European airlines posted a 10.5 per cent increase in freight volumes in January 2018. Capacity increased 5.3 per cent and IATA said the “strong European performance corresponds with a very healthy demand for new export orders among the region’s manufacturers”.
Middle Eastern carriers’ freight volumes increased 4.4 per cent YOY in January 2018, the slowest growth of all regions. Capacity increased 6.3 per cent.
African carriers’ saw freight demand increase by 12.9 per cent in January 2018 compared to the same month last year. The increase was helped by very strong growth on the trade lanes to and from Asia.