Cargo traffic for European airlines fell in July for the first time in 18 months, sliding 1.2 percent on a sharp downturn in trans-Atlantic business.
The first decline since January 2007 included a 4.7 percent fall in North Atlantic air trade, according to the Association of European Airlines.
Asia-Pacific traffic also fell 0.2 percent compared to July 2007, the second decline in four months in the largest air shipping trade lane for European airlines.
The slide for European carriers came as jet fuel prices soared to their highest levels in history in the middle of summer, pushing beyond $4 a gallon in most markets, including an average of $4.03 a gallon during July in Rotterdam. That has helped pull all international air freight traffic down two months in a row, including a 1.9 percent drop in July.
Overall freight traffic for the European airlines has fallen at an accelerating rate for four months in a row, leaving the AEA's measure of the airline cargo business up 2.5 percent in the first seven months of 2008 over the same period last year.