The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released figures showing a small improvement in air freight growth in October, with global freight tonne kilometers (FTK) up four per cent compared with October 2012, with growth in all regions except Africa. IATA said the gradual expansion continues a trend that began in the third quarter as air freight markets have responded to better economic confidence and improved consumer demand.
However, performance varies significantly by region, it added, with Middle East carriers reported the most impressive growth at 12.3 per cent while European and North American airlines reported growth of 4.4 per cent and 3.7 per cent respectively which is below the long-term cargo growth trend of 5-6 per cent. Asia-Pacific carriers grew by a marginal but significant two per cent, finally countering the decline over most of 2013. The pick-up in Chinese growth and trade volumes across the region indicates that Asia-Pacific, which is comfortably the largest air freight region by market share, is potentially poised for continued expansion, IATA said.
“Since mid-year we have seen modest but sustained growth in cargo fed by stronger business confidence and improving trade flows. Air cargo is still a very tough business. Matching capacity to demand has been difficult in an environment where passenger traffic is growing more robustly. There is some evidence that the fall in load factors has stabilised, but yields remain under pressure,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO.
The average load factor for October was 46.4 per cent, which is an improvement on the year-to-date load factor of 44.8 per cent, although still several percentage points below 2010 when they peaked at over 50 per cent.