Global airfreight demand hit skids in January – worst year-over-year results in three years

 Cargo growth grounded in January (Photo: Flickr/Nathan Coats
Cargo growth grounded in January (Photo: Flickr/Nathan Coats

Global air freight demand in January fell 1.8 percent from the same period in 2018, the worst year-over-year decline in three years, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said today.

Of the six world markets surveyed, only North America and Africa registered gains. North America was the standout, with volumes carried by its airlines increasing 3.3 percent year-over-year, IATA said. U.S. airlines in particular benefitted from decent international demand, according to Jesse Cohen, FreightWaves’ air cargo analyst.

Freight volumes hauled by Asia, European and Middle Eastern carriers declined by three percent or more. Traffic hauled by Latin carriers was flat year-over-year. IATA measures demand in freight ton-kilometers, defined as one revenue ton of freight flown one kilometer.

Freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometers, rose by four percent year-over-year, the eleventh consecutive month that capacity growth exceeded demand. This is problematic for the carriers because overcapacity depresses their yields.

IATA blamed the weak results on weakening global economic activity and consumer confidence, as well as uncertainty over the U.S.-China trade talks and Great Britain’s pending withdrawal from the European Union. Airfreight growth began contracting in mid-2018 ahead of a subsequent decline in global export orders.

“Unless protectionist measures and trade tensions diminish there is little prospect of a quick rebound” in airfreight activity, said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.

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Mark Solomon

Formerly the Executive Editor at DC Velocity, Mark Solomon joined FreightWaves as Managing Editor of Freight Markets. Solomon began his journalistic career in 1982 at Traffic World magazine, ran his own public relations firm (Media Based Solutions) from 1994 to 2008, and has been at DC Velocity since then. Over the course of his career, Solomon has covered nearly the whole gamut of the transportation and logistics industry, including trucking, railroads, maritime, 3PLs, and regulatory issues. Solomon witnessed and narrated the rise of Amazon and XPO Logistics and the shift of the U.S. Postal Service from a mail-focused service to parcel, as well as the exponential, e-commerce-driven growth of warehouse square footage and omnichannel fulfillment.