The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced that international airfreight traffic recorded a 14.8% year-on-year increase in September, which is significantly weaker than the 19% rise recorded in August.
While freight markets were expected to weaken towards year-end, September’s decline was larger than anticipated. Consumer and business confidence remains weak in many parts of the world. Re-stocking lifted freight markets earlier in the year, but this has not been followed by spending to solidify the economic recovery.
Compared with September 2009, freight capacity increased by 11.9%, below the 14.8% increase in volumes, pushing cargo load factors to 52.4%.
"The freight numbers are worrying," said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s director general & CEO. "Freight activity has fallen 6% since May’s post-crisis peak. What we see in air cargo markets is inevitably reflected in the broader economy."
As international air cargo accounts for 35% of the value of goods traded internationally, it is a leading indicator of economic activity.
September marked the second consecutive month of seasonally adjusted declines in freight demand (-1% in August, -2.1% in September). Freight volumes are 6% below the May peak, which is equivalent to pre-crisis levels.
European carriers recorded an 11.1% increase in freight demand compared with September 2009. Although European exports have been helped with the weak Euro, freight demand for European carriers remains 14% below pre-recession levels.
North American carriers recorded 13% growth in September, down from the 21.2% recorded in August, which leaves the region 1% below pre-recession levels.
Asia-Pacific carriers recorded a 15% increase in freight demand over the previous year, a significant decline from the 22.3% growth recorded in August. This took the region’s carriers back to the pre-recession levels of early-2008 and, with their 44% market share, contributed the most to the global drop in freight demand.
Middle East carriers bucked the declining trend with a 24% increase over previous-year levels. Even though this is less than the 24.2% recorded in August, when adjusted for seasonality, this represents an increase of 1.4% over August levels. Moreover, when compared to pre-recession levels, the region’s carriers are carrying a third more traffic than they did prior to the recession.
International freight traffic market shares by region in terms of FTK are:
North America 16.3%
Middle East 10.6%
Latin America 2.9%
"The industry’s situation is volatile," said Bisignani, adding that the accelerating decline of airfreight, including in Asia, is an early indicator of some turbulence ahead