Air Freight

Global air freight demand rises: IATA


Geneva, Switzerland — The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released March 2017 demand growth results for global air freight markets showing a 14% expansion measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs) compared to the same period last year.

This was the fastest pace of growth recorded since October 2010. Freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometers (AFTKs), grew by 4.2% year-on-year in March 2017.

March performance contributed to very strong first quarter (Q1) growth in freight volumes. After adjusting for the impact of the leap year in 2016, freight demand in Q1 2017 increased by nearly 11%. Capacity increased by 3.7% over the same period (leap year adjusted).

The strengthening of air freight demand in March is consistent with an uptick in world trade and a six-year high in new export orders. An increase in the shipment of silicon materials typically used in high-value consumer electronics shipped by air, is also likely underpinning a portion of the strong performance.

“March capped a robust first quarter with the strongest year-on-year air freight growth in six-and-a-half years. Optimism is returning to the industry as the business stabilizes after many years in the doldrums. There is, however, still much lost ground to recover while facing the dual headwinds of rising fuel and labor costs. It remains critical to use the improvement in the industry’s fortunes as an opportunity to enhance the value offering by implementing modern customer-centric initiatives that streamline processes and reduce costs,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

Regional Performance

All regions, with the exception of Latin America, reported year-on-year increases in demand in March 2017. Airlines in Europe and Asia-Pacific posted the strongest growth accounting for two-thirds of the industry-wide increase in demand. The remaining growth was split between North American and Middle Eastern carriers, with African airlines making a modest contribution.

North American carriers posted an increase in freight volumes of 9.5% in March 2017, and a capacity increase of 2.8%. International freight volumes increased 14.2% over the same period – the fastest pace since the boost to air freight from the consequences of congestion at US West Coast seaports in 2015. Seasonally-adjusted volumes have slowed to a near standstill alongside a weakening in demand in Pacific routes. The further strengthening of the US dollar continues to boost the inbound freight market but is keeping the export market under pressure.

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