Global freight tonne kilometres (FTKs) put in their strongest first-half performance for seven years, said IATA in its report for the first six months of 2017, published on 2 August. Traffic grew by 10.4% in the first half of 2017 compared to the first half of 2016, the best showing since the global financial crisis in 2010 and nearly triple the average growth of 3.9% over the last five years.
Freight capacity in available freight tonne kilometres (AFTKs) grew 3.6% in the first half of 2017, helping to push up yields, IATA said.
It added that the strong performance in the first half of 2017 was confirmed by June’s results with year-on-year demand increasing 11% compared to the same period in 2016. While a slight slowing over the 12.7% increase seen in May, it remains well ahead of the 3.9% five-year average, IATA pointed out. Freight capacity grew by 5.2% year-on-year in June.
Airfreight is mirroring the improvement in global trade, says IATA - new global export orders remain close to a six-year high. There are though some signs that cyclical growth may have peaked; the period when companies look to restock inventories quickly - which often gives air cargo a boost - may be nearing an end.
Regardless, the outlook is optimistic with demand expected to grow at a robust 8% during the third quarter of this year, IATA predicts. Its director general and chief executive Alexandre de Juniac, comments: "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.”
Even more importantly, he said: “The industry is taking advantage of this momentum to accelerate much-needed process modernisation."
Breaking down the figures, IATA said all regions saw growth, but Asia Pacific and Europe accounted for two-thirds of the increase. Asia-Pacific airlines’ freight volumes grew 10.1% in June compared to 2016 and capacity grew 7.8%.
European airlines posted a 14.3% year-on-year increase in demand in June and a capacity rise of 6.1%, helping to boost volume for the first half of 2017 by 13.6%. The weak Euro is helping to increase export orders. Capacity increased by 5.4%.
North American demand increased 12.7% in June year-on-year and capacity was up 3%, contributing to a 9.3% increase in the first half of 2017, in contrast to the fall seen in 2016.
Middle Eastern volume increased 3.7% year-on-year in June and capacity increased 2.2%. The 7.6% increase in demand in the first half of 2017 was well below the 10.8% average of the past five years - mainly due to strong competition from carriers in other regions. The region’s share of total international freight flown fell in the first half of 2017, for the first time in 17 years.
Latin American demand grew 9.8% in June compared to 2016 - the fastest since November 2010 but seasonally adjusted international volumes remain 10% lower than at the 2014 peak.
African carriers had the fastest growth in year-on-year freight volumes, up 31.6% in June and a capacity increase of 7.6%, contributing to a 25.9% surge in freight demand in the first half of 2017.
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