IATA's May 2019 data for global air freight
markets shows that demand, measured in freight tonne kilometers
(FTKs), decreased by 3.4% in May 2019 when compared to May 2018, a slight improvement on the 5.6% contraction in
In seasonally-adjusted terms, the level of FTKs
increased modestly for the third consecutive month, suggesting
that the low point of this cycle may be behind us, although the
market remains weak.
Freight capacity, measured in
available freight tonne kilometers (AFTKs), rose by 1.3%
year-on-year in May 2019. Capacity growth has now outstripped
demand growth for the 13th consecutive month.
demand has suffered from very weak global trade volumes and trade
tensions between the US and China. This has contributed to
declining new export orders. The indicator for new manufacturing
export orders, part of the global Purchasing Managers Index (PMI),
has indicated falling orders since September 2018.
impact of the US-China trade war on air freight volumes in May was
clear. Year-on-year demand fell by 3.4%. It’s evidence of the
economic damage that is done when barriers to trade are erected.
Renewed efforts to ease the trade tensions coming on the sidelines
of the G20 meeting are welcome. But even if those efforts are
successful in the short-term, restoring business confidence and
growing trade will take time. And we can expect the tough business
environment for air cargo to continue,” said Alexandre de Juniac,
IATA's Director General and CEO.
Airlines in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East suffered
sharp declines in year-on-year growth in total air freight volumes
in May 2019, while North America and Europe experienced more
moderate declines. Africa, and Latin America both recorded growth
in air freight demand compared to May last year.
Asia-Pacific airlines saw demand for air freight contract by a
hefty 6.4% in May 2019, compared to the same period in 2018. The
US-China trade war and weaker manufacturing conditions for
exporters in the region have significantly impacted the market.
With the region accounting for more than 35% of total FTKs, this
performance is the major contributor to the weak industry-wide
outcome. Air freight capacity increased by 0.3% over the past
North American airlines saw demand decrease by 1.6%
in May 2019, compared to the same month a year earlier. Capacity
increased by 1.4% over the past year. The recent easing of growth
again can be partly attributed to the falling global trade volumes
and US-China trade tensions. International FTKs between Asia and
North America have fallen by almost 8% in year-on-year terms.
European airlines posted a 0.2% decrease in freight demand in
May 2019 compared to the same period a year earlier. This is a
significant improvement on the 6.9% contraction in April. Weaker
manufacturing conditions for exporters in Germany, indications of
a slowing in the regional economy, and ongoing uncertainty over Brexit, have impacted the recent performance. Capacity increased
by 2.5% year-on-year.
Middle Eastern airlines’ freight
volumes decreased 6.9% in May 2019 compared to May 2018. Capacity decreased by 1.6%. A clear downward trend in
seasonally-adjusted international air cargo demand is now evident
with weakening air freight volumes to/from North America and
to/from Asia Pacific contributing to the softer performance. Once
again, these flows reflect the broader weakness in global trade
volumes, combined with the impact of the restructuring of airline
business models currently underway in the region.
American airlines experienced an increase in freight demand growth
in May 2019 of 2.7% compared to the same period last year and
capacity increased by 6.6%. With international FTKs falling by
0.5% over the same period, the total increase highlights a healthy
performance in the region’s domestic air cargo markets.
African carriers posted the fastest growth of any region in May
2019, with an increase in demand of 8.0% compared to the same
period a year earlier. This continues the upwards trend in FTKs
that has been evident since mid-2018 and makes Africa the
strongest performer for the third consecutive month. Capacity grew
13.4% year-on-year. Strengthening trade and investment linkages
with Asia have underpinned a double-digit increase in air freight
volumes between the two regions over the past year.