The International Air Transport Association cut its 2011 forecast for global air cargo revenue to $67 billion from a $72 billion estimate in June, due to stagnant volume and weakening freight rates.
Cargo volume will grow by just 1.4 percent in 2011, down from 5.5 percent predicted in June, the industry group said. The world’s airlines are expected to transport 46.4 million metric tons of freight this year, down from the previous forecast of 48.2 million tons.
Cargo traffic, which hit a post-recession peak in May 2010, largely driven by re-stocking, has stagnated through 2011. July traffic was down 4 percent from the peak and it is unlikely that a revival in volume will begin before 2012, according to IATA.
Freight yields likely will stagnate in 2011, down from an earlier forecast of a 4 percent increase, due to an oversupply of belly cargo capacity on passenger aircraft.
The shocks from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March continue to affect supply chains and the Asia/Pacific air cargo market. But a strong rebound is expected later in the year, continuing into 2012.
IATA raised its 2011 forecast for global airline profits by 73 percent to $6.9 billion on revenue of $594 billion from $4 billion in June, because of stronger-than-expected growth in passenger traffic in Europe and the Middle East.
“We should keep in the improvement in perspective,” said IATA CEO Tony Tyler. “The $2.9 billion bottom line improvement is equal to about half a percent of revenue. And the margin is a paltry 1.2 percent."
IATA forecasts 2012 profit will fall to $4.9 billion on revenues of $632 billion.
“Airlines are competing in a very tough environment. And 2012 will be even more difficult,” Tyler said.
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