Air Cargo Posts Strongest First Half-Year Growth Since 2010

IATA’s latest data for global air freight
markets shows that demand, measured in freight tonne kilometers
(FTKs), grew by 10.4% in the first-half of 2017 compared to the
first-half of 2016.

 This was the strongest first half-year
performance since air cargo’s rebound from the Global Financial
Crisis in 2010 and nearly triple the industry’s average growth
rate of 3.9% over the last five years.

Freight capacity, measured in available freight
tonne kilometers (AFTKs), grew by 3.6% in the first half of 2017
compared to the same period in 2016. Demand growth continues to
significantly outstrip capacity growth, which is positive for

Air cargo’s strong performance in the first half
of 2017 was confirmed by June’s results. Year-on-year demand
growth in June increased 11% compared to the same year-earlier
period. Freight capacity grew by 5.2% year-on-year in June.

Bravo Industries' Lockheed Martin LM-100J Super Hercules commercial freighter aircraft

The sustained growth of air freight demand is
consistent with an improvement in global trade, with new global
export orders remaining close to a six-year high. However, there
are some signs that the cyclical growth period may have peaked.
The global inventory-to-sales ratio has stopped falling. This
indicates that the period when companies look to restock
inventories quickly, which often gives air cargo a boost, may be
nearing an end. Regardless of these developments, the outlook for
air freight is optimistic with demand expected to grow at a robust
rate of 8% during the third quarter of this year.

“Air cargo is flying high on the back of a
stronger global economy. Demand is growing at a faster pace than
at any time since the Global Financial Crisis. That’s great news
after many years of stagnation. And, even more importantly, the
industry is taking advantage of this momentum to accelerate
much-needed process modernization and improve the value it
provides to its many customers,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s
Director General and CEO.

All regions experienced positive freight growth
in the first half of 2017. Carriers in Asia Pacific and Europe
accounted for two-thirds of the increase in demand.

 Asia Pacific airlines’ freight volumes
grew 10.1% in June 2017 compared to the same period in 2016 and
capacity grew by 7.8%. This contributed to a growth in freight
demand of 10.1% in the first half of 2017 compared to the first
half of 2016. Seasonally adjusted international freight volumes
are now 4% above the level reached in 2010 following the global
financial crisis bounce-back. Demand growth has been strongest,
between 13-15%, on international routes within Asia as well as
between Asia and Europe. Capacity in the region increased 4.8% in
the first half of 2017.

 North American carriers saw freight demand
increase by 12.7% in June 2017 year-on-year and capacity increase
by 3%. This contributed to strong growth in demand in the first
half of 2017 of 9.3% in contrast to the negative growth seen
during the same period in 2016. Capacity grew by 1.5% in the first
half of 2017. Seasonally adjusted international volumes remain
very strong, surging by an annualized rate of more than 30% in the
second quarter. The strength of the US dollar continues to boost
the inbound freight market but is keeping the export market under

 European airlines posted a 14.3%
year-on-year increase in freight demand in June 2017 and a
capacity rise of 6.1%. The healthy results helped boost cargo
volumes for the first half of 2017 by 13.6%. The ongoing weakness
of the Euro persists in boosting the performance of the European
freight market which continues to benefit from strong export
orders. Capacity in the region increased by 5.4% in the first half
of 2017.

 Middle Eastern carriers’ freight volumes
increased 3.7% year-on-year in June 2017 and capacity increased
2.2%. This contributed to an increase in demand in the first half
of 2017 of 7.6%, well below the 10.8% average annual rate seen
over the past five years. The slowdown in growth is mainly due to
strong competition from carriers in other regions particularly on
the Asia-Europe route rather than a significant decrease in demand
which has continued to trend upwards at a solid rate of around 10%
in annualized terms since early 2017. For the first time in 17
years the region’s share of total international freight flown in
the first half of 2017 has fallen. Capacity in the region
increased by 1.5% in the first half of 2017.

 Latin American airlines experienced a
growth in demand of 9.8% in June 2017 compared to the same period
in 2016 – the fastest since November 2010 – and an increase in
capacity of 2.9%. June’s positive results contributed to the
region posting a marginal increase in demand of 0.3% for the first
half of 2017. However, seasonally adjusted international volumes
remain 10% lower than at the peak in 2014. Capacity fell by 0.6%
in the first half of 2017. The region continues to be blighted by
weak economic and political conditions, particularly in its
largest economy, Brazil.

 African carriers had the fastest growth in
year-on-year freight volumes, up 31.6% in June 2017 and a capacity
increase of 7.6%. This  contributed to freight demand growing
25.9% in the first half of 2017 – the fastest of all regions.
Demand has been boosted by very strong growth on the trade lanes
to and from Asia which have increased by nearly 60% in the first
five months of 2017. Capacity grew 11.2% in the first half of the
year. Seasonally adjusted growth has levelled off in recent
months; however growth is set to remain in double digits for the
remainder of 2017.

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