IATA: air cargo demand recovers in April after the March slowdown

Air cargo demand measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs) were up year-on-year (YOY) by 4.1 per cent in April, according to data released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The monthly figure for airlines that IATA represents, which totals about 280 and 83 per cent of global air traffic, was up from the 1.8 per cent growth in annual demand recorded in March 2018.

Freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometers (AFTKs), grew by 5.1 per cent YOY in April 2018. This was the second time in 21 months that capacity growth outstripped demand growth. The freight load factor was down 0.5 per cent in the month to 44.8 percentage points.

After a sharp fall in March 2018, to a 23-month low, IATA said global volumes recovered slightly in April 2018, but added the pace at which demand is growing, however, remains significantly slower than in much of 2017.

The association said weaker growth in air cargo is primarily due to the end of the restocking cycle, during which businesses rapidly increase their inventory to meet unexpectedly high demand. This is consistent with demand drivers moving away from the highly supportive levels seen last year.

IATA also noted the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for manufacturing and export orders fell in April 2018 to its lowest level since 2016. A softening of global trade is also evident with containerised freight demand slowing in tandem with air freight demand. Seasonally-adjusted freight volumes continue to track sideways.

IATA director general and chief executive officer, Alexandre de Juniac said: “April saw a strengthening from the abrupt slowdown in growth experienced in March. This is good news. We remain cautiously optimistic that demand will grow in the region of 4% this year. But the forecast appears to have increasing downside potential.

“Oil prices continue to rise as does protectionist rhetoric. Borders open to people and to trade drive economic growth and social prosperity. We are all disadvantaged when they are closed.”

As for demand regionally in April, all regions increased with Africa’s FTKs up 5.6 per cent, Asia Pacific 3.9 per cent, Europe 2.4 per cent, Latin America 10.6 per cent, the Middle East 7.3 per cent and North America 3.6 per cent.