The global air cargo market continued its “modest” recovery in August, with traffic increasing 3.6 percent year-over-year, the International Air Transport Association said.
The August increase was better than year-to-date performance of a 0.7 percent expansion. Demand for air freight began increasing slowly from April, as economic performance in Europe and the U.S. showed signs of improvement, but a strong upswing in the cargo performance of Asia-Pacific airlines, which have a collective market share of 38 percent, will be required for significant improvement, IATA said.
“There are some signs of improvement in demand, but the air freight business remains very tough,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO, in a written statement.
“Freight volumes are only now reaching the levels of 2011 when the cargo business peaked with revenue of $67 billion,” Tyler continued. “This year, we expect $59 billion in revenue from air cargo globally. That takes the top line back to 2007 levels. But to earn that revenue, we will be moving nearly 17 percent more cargo and dealing with a 40 percent hike in jet fuel.”
Asia-Pacific traffic was basically flat in August, slipping 0.2 percent from August 2012, which IATA attributed to a slowdown in emerging markets and a deceleration of China’s growth in the first half of the year. Year-to-date, the region’s carriers showed a 1.9 percent decline in freight demand.
European carriers posted a 3.4 percent increase in traffic in August, with capacity up 4.2 percent. Euro zone export orders reached a 27-month high in August, which is expected to lead to strong export growth in the months ahead.
North American airlines showed signs of a small pickup, with year-over-year growth of 0.7 percent. In the first eight months of 2013, North American carriers have seen cargo demand slip by 1.2 percent compared to the same period last year.
Middle East airlines posted a 23.8 percent rise in traffic in August, versus the same month last year, partly because of the impact of Ramada, which fell a month earlier this year. Year-to-date, freight traffic increased 12.7 percent, with freight growth accelerating in recent months.
Latin American cargo rose 12.6 percent in August, as robust trade volume provided a foundation for expansion. However, African carriers suffered an 8.7 percent decline in traffic, despite healthy trade volume, as African airlines fact intense competition on key trade routes.