The latest global air freight data from IATA
shows that demand, measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs),
grew 12.7% in May 2017 compared to the year-earlier period.
was up from the 8.7% annual growth recorded in April 2017 and is
more than three times higher than the five year average growth
rate of 3.8%.
Freight capacity, measured in available freight
tonne kilometers (AFTKs), grew by 5.2% year-on-year in May 2017.
The continued growth of air freight demand is consistent
with an improvement in world trade. This, in turn, corresponds
with new global export orders remaining close to a six-year high
in May. There are, however, some signs that the cyclical growth
period may have peaked. The global inventory-to-sales ratio, for
example, has started rising. This indicates that the period when
companies look to re-stock inventories quickly, which often gives
air cargo a boost, has ended. Regardless of these developments,
the outlook for air freight is optimistic with demand expected to
grow at a robust rate of 8% during Q3 2017.
“May was another good month for air cargo,” said Alexandre
de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO. “Demand growth
accelerated, bolstered by strong export orders. And that outpaced
capacity growth which should be positive for yields. But the
industry can’t afford to rest on its laurels. With indications
that the cyclical growth period may have peaked, the onus is on
the industry to improve its value proposition by accelerating
process modernization and enhancing customer-centricity.”
All regions, with the exception of Latin
America, reported year-on-year double-digit increases in demand in
Asia Pacific airlines’ freight volumes expanded
11.3% in May 2017 compared to the same period a year earlier and
capacity increased by 6.2%. Demand growth has been strongest,
between 13-15%, on international routes within Asia as well as
between Asia and Europe. Seasonally-adjusted volumes are now 3%
above the volumes reached following the 2010 post-global financial
North American carriers posted an
increase in freight volumes of 13.9% in May 2017, and a capacity
increase of 4.1%. Seasonally-adjusted volumes rose again in May,
after a jump in April, indicating signs of a lasting pick up. The
strength of the US dollar continues to boost the inbound freight
market but is keeping the export market under pressure.
European airlines posted a 15.0% increase in freight volumes in
May 2017 and a capacity increase of 5.7%. International freight volumes grew by 15.2% year-on-year in May with airlines benefiting
from strong demand on the Europe-Asia market. The ongoing weakness
of the Euro persists in boosting the performance of the European
freight market which continues to benefit from strong export
Middle Eastern carriers’ year-on-year freight
volumes increased 10.2% in May 2017. This was a sharp jump from
the 3.1% dip in April. The recent swings in the growth rate appear
to be mainly a reflection of the more volatile monthly data last
year. Capacity increased 1.7%. Seasonally-adjusted freight volumes
maintained their upward trend. Demand between the Middle East and
Europe remains strong, increasing 19% so far this year but traffic
to Asia has weakened, growing by just over 1%.
American airlines experienced a growth in demand of 6.7% in May
2017 compared to the same period in 2016. Capacity increased by
7.1% over the same period. Seasonally-adjusted volumes grew
slightly in May however they remained 12% lower than at the peak
in 2014. The region’s carriers have managed to adjust capacity,
which has limited the negative impact on the load factor.
African carriers’ posted the largest year-on-year increase in
demand of all regions in May 2017 with freight volumes growing
27.6%. Capacity increased by 14.7% over the same time period.
Demand has been boosted by very strong growth on the trade lanes
to and from Asia which have increased by nearly 57% so far this
However seasonally adjusted growth has leveled off
in recent months.
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