International air freight traffic fell 4.8 percent in October from a year ago, the seventh consecutive monthly decline, as shippers switched some goods to cheaper sea transport, the International Air Transport Association said.
“Cargo is the story of the month. Since mid-year the market has shrunk by almost 5 percent and this is far greater than the 1 percent fall in world trade,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Chief Executive. “This loss of confidence appears to have caused shippers to switch some transport needs to slower and cheaper sea options to the detriment of air freight.”
IATA said the fall in the confidence of purchasing managers in the manufacturing sector to the lowest level since 2009 contributed to the lower air cargo figures.
By the Numbers: International Air Freight Industry
Asia/Pacific airlines were hardest hit by the downturn, with traffic declining 8.2 percent in October followed by North American carriers, which carried 5 percent less cargo than a year ago. Latin America continued to buck the trend with traffic jumping 7.4 percent from October 2010, while the Middle East was up 3.1 percent and African cargo grew 8.6 percent.
Carriers have responded to weaker demand by cutting their freighter fleets, but this has not prevented a 5 percentage points fall in the cargo load factor from the early 2010 peak due to capacity entering the market via wide-bodied passenger aircraft.
While Asia/Pacific airlines, which account for 40 percent of the world cargo market, are most exposed to volatile volumes, they are still benefiting from the dominance of freight flows in Asia, IATA said. Asian carriers posted a load factor of 58.8 percent in October, 12.3 points above the global average of 46.5 percent, reflecting strong exports from the region.
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