Air freight volumes grow slightly

by Array

GENEVA, Switzerland—The outlook for the air freight industry is slowly improving.

The latest figures released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for the month of November show an increased demand for air freight. In comparison to November 2011, November 2012 showed a 1.6 percent increase from from the previous year. This figure is made more notable when October’s year-to-year comparison is also considered. In October 2012 freight volume demand was down 2.6 percent when measured against the demand that occurred in October 2011.

Both commercial factors and environmental conditions played a role in driving the demand higher. According to the IATA, “These year-on-year growth rates are slightly inflated because major floods in Thailand had negatively affected air transport in November 2011. But the positive results are not misleading; there has been an increase in air transport demand in November compared to October. In fact, the seasonally adjusted air freight volumes have risen back to the stable levels seen in mid-2012, after having shown decline over recent months.”

The IATA also cites increased business confidence and stability in the business environment as key reasons why demand grew. These positive feelings help push the numbers higher than would be expected from the traditional, seasonal, pre-Christmas boost that is usually seen in November, but the IATA does caution that this influence can be fleeting.

“Global economic growth remains weak and that will likely keep the demand environment for air transport fragile in the months to come. On the positive side, airlines are keeping load factors high by limiting capacity growth, which should help financial performance,” it concludes in its monthly report.

The strongest growth in air freight demand comes mostly from airlines based in the Asia-Pacific region, even though they did demonstrate some signs of weakness. The IATA reports “total air freight volumes carried by the region’s airlines were actually down 1.5 percent in November compared to a year ago, but there was expansion of 2.4 percent over the month between November and October”.

In North America, there was a 2.5 percent increase in air freight volumes between October 2012 and November 2012, which helped airfreight load factors gain 0.9 points in November.