Wednesday, February 29, 2012

International Air Freight Figures Down as Cargo Levels Drop

January Market Weaker This Year
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE – Figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for January show an 8% drop in air freight levels against the same month last year. IATA has attributed the decline in part to the occurrence of Chinese New Year in January rather than February as was the case in 2011 but admitted the weakness of the cargo sector was a major factor. IATA’s Director General and CEO Tony Tyler said:

“The year started with some hopeful news on business confidence. It appears that freight markets have stabilized, albeit at weak levels. And this is having a positive impact on business-related travel. However, airlines face two big risks: rising oil prices and Europe’s sovereign debt crisis. Both are hanging over the industry’s fortunes like the sword of Damocles.”

The decline in air freight stabilized in the fourth quarter of 2011, at levels 4% below the 2008 pre-crisis peak. There was a 2.5% fall in global freight markets from December to January, but this is almost totally attributable to the impact of factory closures due to the Chinese New Year. Freight capacity contracted by 0.6% year over year, and freight load factor fell to 41% (from 44.3% in January 2011) as deliveries of new widebody passenger aircraft offset measures to reduce freight capacity.

Asia-Pacific and European airlines bore the brunt of the international decline, down 14% and 9.6% respectively compared to January 2011. In addition to the impact of the holiday, the peripheral economies in Europe have been in recession and attracting little inbound freight. Until recently this had been offset by strong outbound traffic flows from Northern European economies.

Middle Eastern carriers enjoyed a 9.4% rise in demand, the healthiest performance among the regions. North American airlines’ demand dropped 4.0%. Latin American carriers’ traffic climbed 2.2% while African carriers saw a 3.7% decline compared to the year-ago period. A full analysis of both passenger and freight statistics is viewable HERE.