International air cargo traffic dipped 2.2 percent in May from a year ago and contracted 0.4 percent from April in line with deteriorating global economic conditions, the International Air Transport Association said.
Freight markets “have basically moved sideways” since hitting a low during the fourth quarter of 2011 with an improvement of just 1.5 percent by May, according to the industry body that represents 250 airlines.
“But this growth has been narrowly focused on the Middle East carriers,” which accounted for half this year’s growth, IATA said.
The freight load factor stood at 45.3 percent in May, unchanged from the previous month, but 1.2 percentage points below the May 2011 level.
“The airline industry is fragile. Relief in oil prices provides some good news. Unfortunately, the softness in oil markets comes on the back of fears of deterioration in the European economy,” said IATA CEO Tony Tyler.
“Business and consumer confidence are falling. And we are seeing the first signs of that in slowing demand and softer load factors.”
European airlines were hardest hit by the economic downturn, with traffic declining 5.7 percent from a year ago on a 1 percent increase in capacity. Asia-Pacific carriers’ cargo traffic fell 4.1 percent, while capacity was trimmed by 1.7 percent.
North American airlines carried 1.9 percent less cargo on 1.6 percent less capacity.
Middle East carriers boosted freight traffic 12.4 percent, just above an 11.7 percent increase in capacity.
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