IATA's global air freight
market data shows that demand, measured in freight tonne kilometers
(FTKs), rose 6.9% in January 2017 compared to the same month last
While this was down from the 10% annual growth recorded in
December 2016 it still was well above the average annual growth
rate of 3% over the past five years.
Growth in freight
capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometers (AFTKs),
slowed to 3.5% in January 2017.
The continued positive
momentum in freight growth into 2017 coincides with a steady rise
in new export orders, which reached their highest level in
February (latest data available) since March 2011. There has also
been an increase in the shipment of silicon materials typically
used in high-value consumer electronics shipped by air. The timing
of the Lunar New Year (in January 2017) also may have contributed
to higher demand in January.
"It’s been a good start to the year for air
cargo," said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
"Demand growth accelerated in January, bolstered by strengthening
export orders. And that outpaced the capacity growth which should
be positive for yields. And, longer-term, the entry into force of
the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) will cut red tape at the
borders for faster, cheaper and easier trade. The onus is now on
the industry to seize the opportunity to accelerate the
modernization of processes to make air cargo an even more
compelling option for shippers."
All regions, with the exception of Latin
America, reported an increase in demand in January 2017.
Asia Pacific airlines saw demand in freight volumes grow 6.0% in
January 2017 and capacity increase by 6.6%, compared to the same period in 2016. Seasonally-adjusted volumes were up considerably
since early-2016 and are now back to the levels reached in 2010 during the post-global financial crisis bounce-back. The increase
in demand is captured in the positive outlook from business
surveys in the region. China’s Purchasing Managers Index (PMI)
rose to a 21-month high, Japan’s PMI to a 36-month high, while
Taiwan, Korea, and Vietnam also reported increases in new export
North American airlines’ freight volumes
expanded 6.1% in January 2017 year-on-year, as capacity increased
0.6%. International freight volumes grew by 8.7% – their fastest
pace since the US seaports disruption boosted demand in February
2015. The strength of the US dollar continued to pump up the
inbound market but kept the export market under pressure.
European airlines posted an 8.7% increase in freight volumes
in January 2016. Capacity increased 3.3%. The strong European performance corresponds with an increase in reported new export
orders, particularly in Germany over the last few months. It was
also helped in part by the ongoing weakness in the Eurozone.
Middle Eastern carriers’ freight volumes increased 8.4%
year-on-year in January 2017 and capacity increased 3.3%.
Seasonally adjusted freight volumes continued to trend upwards
during the first month of the year supported by an increase
between the Middle East and Europe. Despite this, growth has eased
from the double-digit rates which were the norm over the past ten
years. This corresponds with a slowdown in network expansion by
the region’s major carriers.
Latin American airlines
experienced a demand contraction of 4.1% in January 2017 compared
to the same period in 2016 and a decrease in capacity of 1.4%.
Recovery in the seasonally-adjusted volumes also stalled with
demand 13% lower than at the peak in 2014. The region continues to
be blighted by weak economic and political conditions.
African carriers’ saw freight demand increase by 24.3% in
January 2017 compared to the same month last year, helped by very
strong growth on the trade lanes to and from Asia. Demand between
the two continents jumped by 57% in January on the back of rapid
long-haul expansion and increased direct services. The increase in
demand has helped the region’s seasonally adjusted load factor to
rise after falling by five percentage points in 2016 compared to
the previous year.
World Cargo Symposium
The positive start to the year will set an
optimistic backdrop for the World Cargo Symposium
which will gather the air cargo industry in Abu Dhabi, capital of
the UAE, from 14-16 March.
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