International airfreight was on the rise in May, chalking up its biggest increase in demand since September 2006, according to the International Air Transport Association. The group reported a 5-percent increase in demand for that month, when compared with the same period of 2006. That was well in excess of the 2.8-percent growth reported for April. Passenger demand was up as well, showing a 5.5-percent rise. "The pickup in freight, led by Asia, could be the first sign of strengthening demand," said Giovanni Bisignani, director general and chief executive officer of IATA. Over the coming months, he said, the organization will be closely watching several factors, including tougher competition from other modes of transport and a move by manufacturers to lighter goods. On the passenger side, Bisignani said, industry growth has stabilized, with competition keeping load factors high. Asia Pacific airlines saw a doubling of freight demand, from 3.8 percent in April to 7.6 percent in May, while airlines in the Middle East, whose base tonnage was much lower, experienced growth of 10.5 percent. Bisignani said the airline industry should post a profit this year of $5.1bn, the first time it has generated black ink since 2000. High load factors are helping to drive gains in efficiency, even as the industry acquires more fuel-efficient fleets. It is on target to achieve a 25-percent increase in fuel efficiency by 2020, he said.
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