Global air freight volumes declined by 1 percent last year, but traffic could improve quickly this year if the overall economic situation improves, according to Airports Council International.
ACI said growth in global international and domestic freight tonnage was “flat” in December, but this could be a “positive indicator” after seven months of year-over-year declines.
“While air freight began the year in positive territory in 2011, a sustained decline in growth rates was apparent from the month of May and thereafter where growth only converged to zero percent in December 2011,” said ACI.
International air freight tonnage declines in 2011 were recorded at airports in the Middle East (down 0.6 percent), North America (down 1.1 percent) and the Asia Pacific (down 3 percent), the latter the largest region by tonnage and now almost three times the size of the North America market.
But cross-border air freight operators did see growth in Africa (12.4 percent) — from a narrow base — Latin America and the Caribbean (7.2 percent) and, surprisingly, Europe (1.7 percent).
Rafael Echevarne, ACI world director of economics, said 2011 showed how sensitive to economic fortunes the air cargo sector is.
“As governments slowly adopt the necessary austerity measures to deleverage their balance sheets, certain economies may experience an economic slowdown in the short run thereby having an impact on international trade,” he added. “However, as business confidence resumes, so will global trade in air freight.”
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