Air freight volumes hit two-year high
Geneva, September 3, 2013
The international air freight volumes in July surged to their highest level since mid-2011 thanks to a solid contribution from the airlines in Europe, the Middle East and Latin America, said a report.
Announcing the results for July, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said it was a continuation of the modest improvement trend experienced in June. The volumes were up 0.7 per cent from the same period last year and 0.5 per cent from June 2013, said the aviation body.
According to IATA, the global freight tonne kilometers (FTKs) grew 1.2 per cent in July year-on-year, slightly better than the 0.9 per cent year-on-year increase recorded in June, as growth in Europe and the Middle East offset weakness in Asia.
As a result of the July performance, air freight volumes were at their highest level since mid-2011, the IATA said in its report. Capacity increased 3.4 per cent versus July 2012, pushing load factor down to 43.3 per cent. However, load factors have stabilized compared to earlier in 2013, it added.
IATA director general and CEO Tony Tyler said: "The growth is encouraging, particularly in Europe. However, it is premature to say that air cargo may be emerging from the doldrums of the past 18 months."
"The weakness in Asia-Pacific freight markets and the deteriorating political situation in parts of the Middle East give ample reason for continued caution," he remarked.
According to IATA, the Asia-Pacific carriers’ cargo demand fell 1.4 per cent compared to July 2012, while capacity climbed 2.6 per cent.
The Asia-Pacific airlines have seen air freight contract 2.1 per cent through the first seven months of 2013, the largest decline among regions, the aviation body said in its monthly report.
The business activity in China remained sluggish, with the Markit/HSBC Purchasing Managers Indices for manufacturing and export orders continuing to show softness. Moreover, the weakness extends beyond China, with emerging Asia trade volumes shrinking almost 5 per cent in the first half of the year, it added.
European carriers experienced a 1.5 per cent increase in FTKs in July, while capacity climbed 3.5 per cent. July was the second consecutive month in which air freight demand increased, giving rise to cautious optimism, said the report.
Questions remain, however, regarding the Eurozone’s ability to sustain growth. Although the Eurozone’s 18 month recession ended in the second quarter, performance among countries varies widely, with Portugal, Germany and France leading the expansion and Italy, Spain and the Netherlands showing contraction. Through the first eight months of 2013, FTKs rose 0.2 per cent year-over-year, it stated.
According to Tyler, the North American airlines had another month of weak demand for air freight in July. FTKs fell 1.1 per cent compared to the year-ago period, contributing to a 1.7 per cent contraction in the first seven months of 2013 versus last year.
"Signals out of the US are mixed. July’s performance represented a decline compared to June, but month-on-month growth rates have been especially volatile and recent indicators suggest rising business confidence, in line with an improving economy," he remarked.
Tyler pointed out that the Middle East airlines led all regions with a 14.4 per cent rise in FTKs compared to July 2012.
"With the capacity climbing 11.1 per cent and the year-to-date demand up 11.7 per cent, the Middle East was one of just two regions in which airlines saw demand growth exceed capacity growth," he added.
Tyler attributed a part of the rise in year-on-year growth rates in July to the timing of Ramadan, which took place mostly in July 2013, while in 2012, most of the holiday occurred in August.
Ramadan typically gives a boost to air freight demand for Middle Eastern carriers, as air transport of perishable foods and gift parcels increases to/from the region, said the IATA chief.
On the other airlines, Tyler said Latin American carriers’ cargo traffic rose 3.1 per cent in July compared to a year ago, with capacity up just 1.7 per cent. This result was broadly in line with the region’s performance during the first seven months of the year, when FTKs rose 3.4 per cent, said the global aviation body in its report.
"Demand for certain Latin American exports has shown strong growth momentum over recent months, providing a solid foundation for expansion in air freight demand, he stated.
The African airlines, said Tyler, too experienced a 4.9 per cent contraction in July year-on-year. "Despite a relatively supportive demand environment, reflected in the year-to-date FTK growth of 2.2 per cent, airlines in the region continue to face intense competition for their product," he added.-TradeArabia News Service