Global air cargo traffic grew by 0.6 percent in September from a year ago but was down on the two previous months, the International Air Transport Association reported.
The “minor” year-on-year growth is less significant than the 0.6 percent fall in volumes between August and September, which is more indicative of the market trend, the industry body said.
The second month-on-month decline in as many months — August was down 0.8 percent on July — has eroded the stability achieved earlier in the year.
All major regions have seen year-on-year declines. The Asia-Pacific region, which accounts for around 40 percent of the world cargo market, is down 6.7 percent on the first nine months of 2011, and European and North American volumes are off 3 percent and 1.5 percent respectively.
The introduction of new consumer products such as Apple’s iPhone5 could, however, offset some of the downward pressure from the weak business environment, IATA said.
Capacity was trimmed 0.6 percent in September from a year ago, which boosted the international cargo load factor to 45.6 percent from 45.1 percent.
The Asia-Pacific region saw demand slip 1.6 percent in September, an improvement on August, when traffic slumped 5.3 percent, “but still no progress compared to a year ago,” IATA noted.
North American carriers’ traffic fell 1.1 percent on 3.1 percent less capacity, which lifted the load factor by 0.7 percentage points to 35.2 percent.
European demand was down 0.4 percent, but carriers increased capacity by 1.2 percent, which trimmed their aggregate load factor by 0.7 points to 45.6 percent.
The Middle East continued to buck the downward trend, with traffic surging 16.3 percent in September, outpacing 6.9 percent capacity growth and driving up the load factor by 3.8 points to 46.1 percent.
Latin American airlines boosted capacity by 9 percent from a year ago, but demand dipped 1.6 percent, depressing the load factor by 4.1 points to 37.8 percent.
Demand grew 4.1 percent in Africa on a 1.4 percent rise in capacity, which lifted the load factor by 0.6 points to 24.1 percent.