Global air freight markets slowed in March and grew at the slowest pace in 22 months, according to figures released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
IATA said demand, measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs), rose 1.7 per cent in the month compared to the same month in 2017. This was five percentage points lower than the February result and the slowest pace of growth in 22 months.
Africa’s FTKs were down 3.4 per cent, Asia Pacific up 0.7 per cent, Europe up one per cent, Latin America up 15.5 per cent, the Middle East up 0.8 per cent and North America up 3.9 per cent.
The year-on-year increase in capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometers (AFTK) fell to 4.4 per cent compared to 6.3 per cent in February. This was the first time in 20 months, however, that annual capacity rose faster than demand.
The sharp growth slowdown is principally due to the end of the restocking cycle, during which businesses rapidly increased their inventory to meet unexpectedly high demand. A softening of global trade is also evident.
IATA’s director general and chief executive officer, Alexandre de Juniac said: “It’s normal that growth slows at the end of a restocking cycle. That clearly has happened. Looking ahead we remain optimistic that air cargo demand will grow by 4-5% this year. But there are obviously some headwinds.
“Oil prices have risen strongly, and economic growth is patchy. The biggest damage could be political. The implementation of protectionist measures would be an own-goal for all involved – especially the US and China.”