IATA growth not quite as good as it seems

The latest International Air Transport Association (IATA) figures for air cargo show a decline of 9.6 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) in August compared to declines of 11.3 per cent in July and 16.5 per cent in June. But that improving trend is not quite as good as it seems. Remember that it was this time […]


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The latest International Air Transport Association (IATA) figures for air cargo show a decline of 9.6 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) in August compared to declines of 11.3 per cent in July and 16.5 per cent in June. But that improving trend is not quite as good as it seems. Remember that it was this time last year when cargo traffic first dipped into negative territory, and so y-o-y comparisons are starting to get better. Comparing traffic figures to 2007 – the peak of the market – there is some improvement, but not so dramatic. Combining the 2008 and 2009 IATA figures to give a crude comparison with 2007, cargo was 17.3 per cent below 2007 in June, -13.2 per cent in July and -12.3 per cent in August – still a positive trend, but not quite so dramatic as the 2009 IATA figures suggest at face value. For Asian carriers, the trend is more tentative compared to 2007: Down 20.6 per cent in June, -16 per cent in July and -15.8 per cent in August. Comparing 2009 to 2009, Asian carrier traffic only showed a slight improvement from July (down 9.5 per cent) to August (down 9 per cent). And it is from September onwards that the figures really will get interesting. IATA recorded y-o-y falls of 7.7 per cent in September 2008, which deepened to 7.9 per cent in October, 13.5 per cent in November and 22.6 per cent in December. That means that overall traffic has to fall by less than 4.6 per cent y-o-y in September to continue the improving trend – or by less than 5.2 per cent for Asian carriers. By December, just to keep traffic at the same level it is today, the IATA figures will have to be showing 12 per cent year on year growth.