IATA: air freight up 6.8% in February but protectionist risks remain

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Demand continues to remain strong in the air cargo industry in February, according to figures released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Global air freight markets for the month showed a 6.8 per cent increase in demand measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs) compared to the same period last year.

Adjusting for the potential Lunar New Year distortions by combining growth in January 2018 and February 2018, demand increased by 7.7 per cent. This was the strongest start to a year since 2015.

In February, FTKs in Africa grew 15.9 per cent, Asia Pacific 6.5 per cent, Europe 5.7 per cent, Latin America 8.7 per cent, the Middle East 7.4 per cent and North America 7.3 per cent.

Freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometers (AFTKs), grew by 5.6 per cent year-on-year in February 2018. Demand growth outstripped capacity growth for the 19th month in a row, which is positive for airline yields and the industry’s financial performance.

IATA said the continued growth in air cargo demand is consistent with ongoing robust global trade flows. There are, however, signs that the best of the upturn for air freight has passed. Demand drivers for air cargo are moving away from the highly supportive levels seen last year.

In recent months the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for manufacturing and export orders has softened in a number of key exporting nations including Germany, China and the US. And the seasonally- adjusted demand for air cargo which rose at a double-digit annualized rate for much of 2017 is now trending at three per cent.

IATA’s director general and chief executive officer, Alexandre de Juniac (pictured above) said: “Demand for air cargo continues to be strong, with 6.8 per cent growth in February.
“The positive outlook for the rest of 2018, however, faces some potentially strong headwinds, including escalation of protectionist measures into a full-blown trade war.
“Prosperity grows when borders are open to people and to trade, and we are all held back when they are not.”