Inside Logistics

Air freight decline continues

Trade growth languishing, business uncertainty compounded by tariff increases in US-China trade dispute


August 7, 2019
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GENEVA – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for global air freight markets showing that demand, measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs), decreased by 4.8 percent in June 2019, compared to the same period in 2018. This marks the eighth consecutive month of year-on-year decline in freight volumes.

Signs of a modest recovery in recent months appear to have been premature, with the June contraction broad-based across all regions except Africa. Capacity growth remains subdued and the cargo load factor continues to fall. Globally, trade growth is languishing, and business uncertainty is compounded by the latest tariff increases in the US-China trade dispute.

“Global trade continues to suffer as trade tensions – particularly between the US and China – deepen. As a result, air cargo markets continue to contract. Nobody wins a trade war. Borders that are open to trade spread sustained prosperity. That’s what our political leaders must focus on,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

Airlines in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East once again suffered the sharpest declines in year-on-year growth in total air freight volumes in June 2019. Africa was the only region to show any growth.

North American airlines’ freight demand decreased by 4.6 percent in June 2019, compared to the same period a year earlier. Capacity increased by 1.9 percent over the past year. US-China trade tensions are weighing on the performance, with FTKs to Asia down 5 percent. FTKs on routes to/from Europe, South America and Middle East were also lower.

European airlines posted a 3.6 percent decrease in freight demand in June 2019 compared to the same period a year earlier. Comparatively strong cargo volumes within Europe are helping to minimize the impact of weaker German exports. Capacity increased by 2.8 percent year-on-year.