Data released over the last couple of weeks by a range of organizations representing airlines and airports around the world provides a good indicator of the extent of the slowdown now being experienced in the global air cargo sector.
As reported last week (Ti Logistics Briefing, News, September 4), the International Air Transport Association (IATA) revealed that cargo demand in July for its members contracted by 1.9% compared to the same month in 2007. Asia Pacific carriers-the largest players in the global cargo market - were particularly hit hard with a 6.5% drop in demand.
As a result of the weaker economic outlook, IATA also significantly revised downward its traffic forecast for this year. Airfreight volumes are now expected to grow on average by just 1.8% (was 3.9%). That is only half the pace of expansion seen in 2007 despite being boosted by the stronger growth seen at the start of the year. According to IATA, strong traffic growth allowed the industry to partly absorb the rise in fuel costs from 2003-2007. That was no longer the case, said the association's analysts.
In Europe, the Association of European Airlines (AEA) stated that in July there was a decrease of 1.2% in overall freight traffic carried by its members, the first decline in its monthly freight figures since 2005. The AEA explained that behind that figure lay a substantial drop of 4.7% in North Atlantic volume although the group's other major market, to/from the Far East, also showed a decrease, of 0.2%.
The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) reported that international air cargo traffic fell in July for the second month in a row, with a 5.5% decline in freight carried, as measured in freight tonne kilometers (Ti Logistics Briefing, News, August 29). However, the average cargo load factor rose marginally to 66.6%, as a result of a 5.9% reduction in flown capacity. Commenting on those results, Andrew Herdman, AAPA director general, said: "The outlook for the remainder of the year remains bleak, with most of the world's major economies now struggling to avoid recession. Airlines are moving quickly to cut back non-performing routes, reducing capacity in line with expected lower demand, and working closely with airports and other key service providers to eliminate unnecessary costs throughout the business, in order to survive the current crisis."
The Airports Council International (ACI) agreed that freight traffic had continued to fall, with total freight handled worldwide in July this year down by 1.5% compared to July 2007. International and domestic tonnages were down by 1.5% and 1.7%, respectively. The first seven months of 2008 showed total freight rising by 1.5% and international freight up by 3%, whereas domestic freight dropped by 3%.
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