Middle Eastern carriers’ freight volumes increased 4.4 per cent year-on-year in January, the slowest growth of all regions, according to figures released by the International Air Transport Association (Iata).
The Middle East’s capacity increased 6.3 per cent. Seasonally adjusted freight volumes continued to trend upwards during the first month of the year, however, the region’s carriers remain affected by the ongoing challenging political environment in the Middle East, it said.
Iata released data for global air freight markets showing that demand, measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs), rose 8.0 per cent in January compared to the year-earlier period. This was up from the 5.8 per cent annual growth recorded in December 2017.
Freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometers (AFTKs), rose by 4.2 per cent year-on-year in January 2018.
The continued positive momentum in freight growth into 2018 reflects the fact that demand drivers for air cargo remain supportive. Global demand for manufacturing exports is buoyant and meeting this strong demand is leading to longer supply chain delivery times.
Demand for air cargo may strengthen as a result, with companies seeking faster delivery times to make up for longer production times.
Alexandre de Juniac, director general and CEO, Iata, said: “With 8 per cent growth in January, it’s been a solid start to 2018 for air cargo. That follows an exceptional year in which demand grew by 9 per cent. We expect demand for air cargo to taper to a more normal 4.5 per cent growth rate for 2018.”
“But there are potential headwinds. If President Trump follows through on his promise to impose sanctions on aluminium and steel imports, there is a very real risk of a trade war. Nobody wins when protectionist measures escalate,” he said.
All regions reported an increase in demand in January:
•Asia-Pacific airlines saw demand in freight volumes grow 7.7 per cent in January and capacity increase by 2.2 per cent, compared to the same period in 2017. The increase largely reflects the ongoing strong demand experienced by the region’s major exporters, China and Japan which has been driven in part by a pick-up in economic activity in Europe. However, the upward-trend in seasonally-adjusted volumes has paused.
•North American airlines’ freight volumes expanded 7.5 per cent in January year-on-year, as capacity increased 4.2 per cent. The strength of the US economy and the US dollar have improved the inbound freight market in recent years. However, this may be offset by the weakening in the dollar although the recently-agreed US tax reform bill may help to support freight volumes in the period ahead. Seasonally-adjusted volumes are broadly trending sideways.
•European airlines posted a 10.5 per cent increase in freight volumes in January. Capacity increased 5.3 per cent. The strong European performance corresponds with a very healthy demand for new export orders among the region’s manufacturers. Seasonally-adjusted volumes jumped 3 per cent in month-on-month terms in January – the largest increase since March 2017.
•Latin American airlines experienced a growth in demand of 8.0 per cent in January. Capacity increased 5.4 per cent. The pick-up in demand comes alongside signs of economic recovery in the region’s largest economy, Brazil. Seasonally-adjusted international freight volumes are now back to the levels seen at the end of 2014.
•African carriers’ saw freight demand increase by 12.9 per cent in January compared to the same month last year. The increase was helped by very strong growth on the trade lanes to and from Asia. Freight demand jumped by 59 per cent between Africa and Asia in 2017 following an increase in the number of direct flights between the continents, driven by ongoing foreign investment flows into Africa, it stated. – TradeArabia News Service
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