The world’s airlines have grounded 227 freighters, or nearly 12 percent of the fleet of all-cargo planes, in response to the global economic downturn that has cut steeply into cargo traffic and yield, the International Air Transport Association said Tuesday.
IATA issued the estimate along with a new forecast that the world’s airlines will lose $11 billion this year following a loss of $16.8 billion in 2008.
“The bottom line of this crisis (with combined 2008-2009 losses of $27.8 billion) is larger than the impact of 9/11,” said Giovanni Bisignani, director general and CEO of IATA.
IATA’s projection for the full year was sharply worse than the group’s earlier assessment and forecasts airlines’ revenue from cargo will fall nearly 28 percent, or by $17 billion, this year to $44 billion.
The airline group said cargo yields, a rough measure of pricing, fell 20 percent in the second quarter and IATA forecast cargo yield overall would fall 15 percent this year from last year.
Cargo traffic has shown signs of improvement recently, and IATA figures show the traffic in July was up 10 percent compared to the low point in December.
But traffic was still down 11.3 percent in July compared to the same month a year ago, and IATA projects cargo traffic will fall 14 percent for the full year, far worse than even the 6 percent decline in 2001.
Some airlines, including Lufthansa, reportedly have sought to raise yields with “rate restoration” programs similar to those of the ocean carriers. But Bisignani said that even with some signs of improvement, the global economy remains “weak; it is fragile.”
“Cargo is a very important indicator of the economy because 38 percent of the total freight (in value) that is exported or imported is moved on aircraft,” he said.