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Following Two Years of Decline, Airfreight Industry Is Cautiously Optimistic in 2013

IATA says the global air cargo market shrank by 1.5 percent in 2012, a second successive year of decline following a 0.6 percent contraction in 2011. Freight capacity was almost unchanged, growing by 0.2 percent over the year, but the load factor was just 45.2 percent. But the industry is guardedly optimistic cargo will pick up.

The disappointing figures were in sharp contrast to a 5.3 percent year-over-year increase in passenger demand.

"The air cargo industry suffered a one-two punch. World trade declined sharply," says Tony Tyler, IATA director general and CEO. "And the goods that were traded shifted towards bulk commodities more suited for sea shipping. The outstanding bright spot was the development of trade between Asia and Africa, which supported strong growth for airlines based in the Middle East (14.7 percent) and Africa (7.1 percent)."

The IATA data shows that Asia-Pacific airlines, the largest airfreight players, saw traffic fall by 5.5 percent as a result of the slowdown in demand from Western markets, and cut capacity by 2.4 percent.

European and North American carriers reported falls in freight demand of 2.9 percent and 0.5 percent. respectively.

"We are entering 2013 with some guarded optimism. Business confidence is up. The Eurozone situation is more stable than it was a year ago and the U.S. avoided the fiscal cliff," Tyler said.

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