IATA's March 2016 data for global air freight
markets shows a 2.0% drop in volumes measured in freight tonne
kilometers (FTKs) compared to the same period last year.
contrast, freight capacity (measured in available freight tonne
kilometers or AFTKs) rose by 6.9%, putting increased pressure on
already struggling yields.
The weak results reflect subdued growth in world
trade, exaggerated by the comparison to a particularly strong
start to 2015 when air freight volumes were boosted by the effects
of the US West Coast seaports strike.
The most significant fall in
demand was reported by carriers in Asia Pacific and North America.
Combined they account for around 60% of global freight traffic and
reported declines of 5.2%, and 1.8%, respectively.
"It is shaping up to be another tough year for
air cargo. February 2016 world trade volumes were only 0.4% higher
than at the end of 2014. And the expectations of purchasing
managers gives little optimism for an early uptick. The
combination of fierce competition, capacity increases and stagnant
demand makes this a very difficult environment in which to
generate profits," said Tony Tyler, IATAís Director General and
Regional Air Freight
Demand - March 2016
African airlines witnessed a 3.1% drop in demand
in March 2016 compared to the same period last year. A more modest
decline of 1.6% was seen in year-on-year Q1 performance. Notably,
on the back of long-haul expansion, the AFTKs for African airlines
surged by 22.6% year-on-year over the first quarter of 2016. This
is more than double the pace of any other region in recent months.
Asia Pacific carriers saw a 5.2% drop in
demand in March 2016 compared to the same month last year. The
decline is exaggerated by the effects of last yearís US seaport
disruption which fueled strong demand for the regionís carriers.
Nonetheless, demand is weak with export volumes from emerging
Asian economies having contracted in annual terms for 11 of the
past 12 months.
European airlines saw demand for air cargo
grow by a modest 1.3% in March 2016, compared to the same period
in 2015, while capacity increased by 7.9%. Weak cargo demand is a
continuing story for European carriers for whom cargo volumes
stand at just 1% above early 2008 levels.
Latin American carriers saw demand
decrease by 5.9% in March 2016 versus March 2015. Volumes are now
almost 15% lower that their seasonally-adjusted peak in late-2014.
The hardest hit routes are those within South America, reflecting
the regionís challenging economic environment, particularly in
Middle Eastern carriers reported a 2.4%
increase in demand over March last yearóthe slowest since July
2009. This reflects both a slowdown in network expansion by the
regionís main carriers over the past six months and weak trading
North American airlines saw demand fall by
1.8% in March 2016 versus March 2015, partially due to the
rollover effect of the US port strike in 2015 which gave air
freight in the region a boost. Additionally, the regionís carriers
are negatively impacted by the drop in global trade while the
strong US dollar is keeping exports under pressure.
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