April freight traffic was about 2 percent higher than in November 2011, according to the Geneva-based industry body, with Middle East airlines accounting for about 80 percent of the improvement. Asia-Pacific, North American and European carriers continued to show weakness.
The April contraction is misleading as air freight markets slumped sharply in the first half of 2011 and bottomed out toward the end of the year. The industry’s performance so far this year has been marked by various distortions and month-to-month volatility.
“There are clear signs that cargo has bottomed out,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s director-general and CEO.
“Amid the many distortions that have marked the first four months of the year, it is possible to identify the start of a growth trend in cargo for some parts of the world.”
“But economic uncertainty in Europe makes it very difficult to be optimistic in the near to medium term,” Tyler said.
Asia-Pacific airlines were the hardest hit by the global downturn, with traffic declining 7.3 percent largely because of lower Chinese exports. Capacity was down 4.1 percent from April 2011.
European traffic fell 4.9 percent on 0.2 percent less capacity, while North American airlines, which cut capacity by 2.9 percent, carried 6.4 percent less freight than a year ago.
Latin American carriers’ traffic declined 3.4 percent even through capacity was ramped up 8.8 percent.
The Middle East bucked the trend, with traffic growing 14.5 percent and capacity up 15.1 percent.
African airlines posted a 6.1 percent increase in traffic and a 9 percent rise in capacity.
Contact Bruce Barnard at firstname.lastname@example.org.