The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for global air freight markets showing that demand, measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs), was flat (0%) in November 2018, compared to the same period the year before.
This was the slowest rate of growth recorded since March 2016, following 31 consecutive months of year-on-year increases. Middle Eastern airlines’ freight volumes expanded 1.7% in November compared to the same period a year earlier.
Capacity increased by 7.8% over the same period. Seasonally-adjusted international air cargo demand has now trended upwards for the past six months helped by stronger trade to/from Europe and Asia.
Freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometers (AFTKs), rose by 4.3% year-on-year globally in November. This was the ninth month in a row that capacity growth outstripped demand.
While international e-commerce continues to grow, overall demand faced significant headwinds with signs of weakness in global economic activity, a contraction in export order books in all major exporting nations, with the exception of the US and weakened consumer confidence compared to very high levels at the beginning of 2018.
“Normally the fourth quarter is a peak season for air cargo. So essentially flat growth in November is a big disappointment. While our outlook is for 3.7% demand growth in 2019, downside risks are mounting. Trade tensions are cause for great concern. We need governments to focus on enabling growth through trade, not barricading their borders through punitive tariffs,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.