Air cargo demand is experiencing the longest period of year-on-year decline since the global financial crisis of 2008.
The latest global air freight figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) show that demand—measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs)—decreased by 4.5% in September compared to the year ago period.
Freight capacity—measured in available freight tonne kilometers (AFTKs)—rose by 2.1% year-on-year. It is the 11th consecutive month of year-on-year decline for demand, and the 17th consecutive month of capacity outstripping demand.
October’s pause on tariff hikes between Washington and Beijing is good news, but trillions of dollars of trade is already affected
“The US-China trade war continues to take its toll on the air cargo industry,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA Director General and CEO.
“October’s pause on tariff hikes between Washington and Beijing is good news. But trillions of dollars of trade is already affected, which helped fuel September’s 4.5% year-on-year fall in demand. And we can expect the tough business environment for air cargo to continue.”
Aside from the US-China trade war, a deterioration in global trade, and weakness in key economic drivers add to freight carriers’ woes.
Global export orders also continue to fall, with the Purchasing Managers Index reporting that orders have dwindled since September 2018.
In the regional markets, airlines in all regions except Africa experienced a decline in air freight demand compared to the year ago period.
See the breakdown by region below:
- Asia-Pacific airlines saw demand for air freight contract by 4.9% in September 2019, compared to the same period in 2018. Air freight capacity increased by 2.7% over the past year.
- North American airlines saw demand decrease by 4.2% in September 2019, compared to the same period a year earlier. Capacity increased by 1.9%.
- European airlines posted a 3.3% decrease in freight demand in September 2019 compared to the same period a year earlier. Capacity increased by 3.3% year-on-year.
- Middle Eastern airlines’ freight volumes decreased 8.0% in September 2019 compared to the year-ago period. This was the sharpest drop in freight demand of any region. Capacity decreased by 0.4%.
- Latin American airlines experienced a decrease in freight demand in September 2019 of 0.2% compared to the same period last year and a capacity decrease of 2.9%.
- African carriers posted the fastest growth of any region in September 2019, with an increase in demand of 2.2% compared to the same period a year earlier. Capacity grew 9.4% year-on-year.