International freight expanded for the first time in a year-and-a-half in November, as a sudden peak season surge in Asia-Pacific shipping sent freight up 9.5 percent over the same month a year ago.
Asia’s air freight jumped 14.5 percent in November, according to the International Air Transport Association, confirming reports from shippers and forwaders that goods were backed up as long as a week at the region’s overburdened airports.
Even the deeply depressed North American market took part in November’s resurgence, growing 13 percent over the same month a year ago.
Middle East air freight traffic also jumped 21.4 percent and Latin American air cargo was up 17.5 percent, although the biggest boost to the year-over-year expansion probably came from the calendar. Starting in November, IATA’s monthly figures are starting comparisons to the bleakest winter months of the shipping downturn that hit the industry in late 2008.
IATA said freight traffic in November was 20 percent better than it was in December 2008, at the low point in the downturn. Demand was also up sharply on a sequential basis, growing 4.7 percent from October to December, “largely on the strength of markets connected to the Asia-Pacific,” IATA said.
The strong growth also gave the carriers a strong chance to increase deeply depressed pricing. IATA said there was 3.5 percent less air freight capacity available in November than a year ago, and average capacity for the full year was off 9.2 percent.
For the the first 11 months of 2009, international air freight traffic was down 12.7 percent from the same period last year.