Get used to “new normal” of cargo growth warns IATA

Global air freight volumes expanded just 2.2 per cent in 2015 compared to 2014, reflecting the ‘new normal’ of cargo growing in line with general rates of economic expansion.

IATA International Air Transport Association Tony Tyler WCS world cargo symposium

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released figures for global air freight markets showing cargo volumes measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs) expanded 2.2 per cent in 2015 compared to 2014. This was a slower pace of growth than the 5.0 per cent growth recorded in 2014. The weakness reflects sluggish trade growth in Europe and Asia-Pacific, IATA said.

After a strong start, air freight volumes began a decline that continued through most of 2015, until some improvements to world trade drove a modest pick-up late in the year, IATA noted. Cargo in Asia-Pacific, accounting for around 39 per cent of freight traffic, expanded by a moderate 2.3 per cent.

The key markets of Europe and North America, which between them comprise around 43 per cent of total cargo traffic, were basically flat in 2015. Latin America suffered a steep decline (-6.0 per cent) while the Middle East grew strongly, up 11.3 per cent. Africa also saw modest growth of 1.2 per cent.

The freight load factor (FLF) was at times the lowest for some years, falling to an average 44.1 per cent compared to 45.7 per cent in 2014, driven down by weak demand and capacity expansion.

Commenting on the year, Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO said: “2015 was another very difficult year for air cargo. Growth has slowed and revenue is falling. In 2011 air cargo revenue peaked at US$67 billion. In 2016 we are not expecting revenue to exceed $51 billion.