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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