The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has unveiled data for the performance of the global air freight market over April, which experienced a 4.7% decline in freight tonne kilometres (FTKs) over the same point in 2018.
Additionally, IATA’s report highlighted that freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometres (AFTKs) grew by 2.6% year-on-year in April 2019. Capacity growth has reportedly outpaced that of demand for the last 12 months.
Noting that air cargo volumes have been volatile due to the timing of the Chinese New Year and Easter, the trend is clearly downward, with volumes roughly 3% below the August 2018 peak.
Factors that contributed to the decline new export orders include the continued uncertainty related to Brexit-related trade, as well as increasing trade tensions between the US and China.
When compared month-on-month, export orders have increased only three times in the last 15 months.
Alexandre de Juniac, IATA's Director General and CEO, said: “April saw a sharp decline in air cargo growth and the trend is clearly negative this year. Cost inputs are rising, trade tensions are affecting confidence, and global trade is weakening.
“Airlines are adjusting their capacity growth to try and fall into line with the dip in global trade since the end of 2018. It all adds up to a challenging year ahead for the cargo business. Governments should respond by easing trade barriers in order to drive economic activity.”
Over in the Middle East, the region’s freight volumes decreased by 6.2% in April 2019 compared to the year-ago period. Capacity increased by 0.7%, while air freight volumes have declined since the fourth quarter of 2018.
While freight volumes to and from Europe and Asia Pacific are growing, a double-digit decline in freight from North America, a long-standing trade market for the Middle East, highlights some of the ongoing issues faced by carriers operating in the region.