International air cargo traffic increased 1.1 percent in June from a year ago, driven by strong growth in the Middle East that masks continuing market weakness, the International Air Transport Association said.
The increase, following year-over-year declines of 2.2 percent in May and 4.5 percent in April, brings seasonally adjusted demand about 2.5 percent above the low reached in the fourth quarter of 2011.
“While air freight performance remains soft, it is nonetheless an improvement on the weak market conditions of a year ago,” the industry body said in its latest monthly market report.
But Tony Tyler, IATA’s chief executive, played down expectations of a rebound because of uncertainty over the global economy and Europe’s debt crisis. “The uncertainty that we see in the global economic situation is being reflected in air transport’s performance.
“The net effect is a demand limbo as consumers and businesses hedge their spending while awaiting clarity on the European economic front,” Tyler said.
Middle East airlines were the star performers in June, with 17.9 percent cargo growth year-over-year. Carriers increased capacity 14.2 percent to keep pace with demand for moving goods between the region and Africa and also to Asia and Europe.
African cargo volume grew 15.1 percent; capacity rose 12.1 percent.
North American airlines carried 1.8 percent more freight than a year ago and increased capacity 1 percent. Asia-Pacific carriers cut capacity 1.3 percent as demand slipped 3 percent, mainly because of the economic slowdown in China and India.
Continuing economic troubles and waning consumer confidence depressed European freight shipment by 1.1 percent even as capacity grew 1.8 percent.
Latin American carriers beefed up capacity 12.5 percent despite a 1.4 percent decline in demand.
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