December 4, 2019

Air cargo sector slumped in October under tariff weight

IATA report says demand dropped for 12th consecutive month, citing trade war, global economic doldrums.

By DC Velocity Staff

Peak season demand in the air cargo sector got off to a slow start in October, posting the 12th consecutive month of year-on-year declines in freight volumes as the industry continues struggling to fly in the turbulent conditions triggered by U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods, according to the latest figures from The International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Global air freight markets posted a decline in demand of 3.5% in October, as measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs) compared to the same period in 2018, the group reported.

Despite the lack of demand, air freight capacity actually rose by 2.2% year-on-year in October 2019, as measured in available freight tonne kilometers (AFTKs). Capacity growth has now outstripped demand growth for the 18th consecutive month, according to IATA statistics representing some 290 airlines and comprising 82% of global air traffic.

Geneva, Switzerland-based IATA listed three causes for the slump over the past year, saying that air cargo has suffered from the effects of the trade war between the U.S. and China, the deterioration in global trade, and a broad-based slowing in economic growth.

"Air cargo's peak season is off to a disappointing start, with demand down 3.5% in October. Demand is set to decline in 2019 overall - the weakest annual outcome since the global financial crisis," Alexandre de Juniac, IATA's Director General and CEO, said in a release. "It has been a very tough year for the air cargo industry."

Broken out by region, North American airlines saw demand decrease by 2.4% in October 2019, compared to the same period a year earlier. Meanwhile, airlines in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East suffered sharp declines in year-on-year growth in total air freight volumes in October 2019, while Latin American and European carriers experienced a more moderate decline. Africa was the only region to record growth in air freight demand compared to October last year.

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