The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced August 2014 data for global air freight markets showing continued robust growth in air cargo volumes. Measured by freight tonne kilometers (FTKs), volumes rose 5.1% in August, compared to August 2013. Capacity grew at a slower pace of 3.4% from the previous year. This is the second strong month for cargo volumes in a row, following the 6.1% year-on-year rise recorded in July.
Carriers in all regions reported an expansion in volumes. Closely following improvements in world trade and business activity, airlines in the Middle East, North America and Asia reported the strongest growth in the 5-8% range. By comparison demand in Europe and Latin America lagged in the 1-1.5% range as a result of Brazilian economic weakness and EU sanctions on business with Russia, respectively.
“The outlook for air cargo is clearly getting better. However, there are some limiting factors on the extent of potential gains. Demand for air cargo is growing more slowly than global economic activity. Businesses are reported to have more confidence in the future, but the list of political and economic risks continues to moderate how that confidence translates into actual activity,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
Regional analysis in depth
Asia Pacific carriers grew 6.3%, continuing the acceleration of recent months. Emerging Asia trade volumes have expanded volumes solidly in June and July. A notable rise in Chinese export orders bodes well for future demand growth. Capacity expanded 4.4%.
European airlines grew 1.4%. Economic activity within the Eurozone continues to deteriorate, although the latest data does show a moderate pick-up in imports and exports. EU sanctions as a result of the Russia-Ukraine crisis also continues to affect demand. Capacity expanded 4.8%.
North American carriers increased air freight volumes by a solid 5.5% compared to a year ago. A rebound in business activity following the weakness in the first quarter and positive underlying economic growth trends should support stronger growth in the coming months. Capacity fell 0.4%.
Middle Eastern carriers reported cargo growth of 7.8%, a little below the year-to-date average of 9.6%. The Middle East continues to expand strongly on its growing links to developing markets, as well as diversifying into important commodities such as perishables. Capacity was up 6.0%.
Latin American airlines saw air cargo grow by a sluggish 1.1% compared to August 2013. The weakness in Latin American freight volumes reflects declines in regional trade activity and the anemic performance of the Brazilian economy. Capacity expanded 7.6%.
African airlines reported the strongest growth of air cargo demand with a 9.2% year-on-year expansion. Although this is the second consecutive month of strong growth, the volatility of African data, coupled with the slowdown in key African economies such as South Africa, means it is too soon to understand the extent to which this represents a real and sustainable acceleration. Capacity grew 4.2%.