The International Air Transport Association noted the 3.8 percent year-over-year increase in traffic was nearly double the industry’s five-year average growth rate of 2.0 percent, with all regions except Latin America showing positive growth.
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Global airfreight demand grew 3.8 percent year-over-year in 2016.
Global airfreight volumes in 2016 rose 3.8 percent compared with the previous year, according to the most recent data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
IATA noted the increase was nearly double the industry’s average growth rate of 2.0 percent over the last five years, with all regions except Latin America showing positive freight growth during the year.
Available airfreight capacity rose 5.3 percent year-over-year in 2016.
IATA attributed the continued growth in demand primarily to a strong second half, boosted by a peak season that saw a sharp increase in the shipment of silicon materials typically used in high-value consumer electronics and a turnaround in new export orders.
“In terms of demand, 2016 was a good year for air cargo. That was boosted by solid year-end performance,” IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said in a statement.
“Looking ahead, strong export orders are good news. But there are headwinds,” he added. “The most significant is stagnant world trade, which also faces the risk of protectionist measures. Governments must not forget that trade is a powerful tool for growth and prosperity.
“The air cargo industry must also improve its competitiveness. We know that the way forward is defined by digital processes, which will drive efficiency and improve customer satisfaction. We must use the momentum of renewed demand growth to drive the important innovations of the e-cargo vision,” said de Juniac.
On a regional level, Asia Pacific airfreight carriers saw demand rise 2.1 percent for the year, as volumes returned “to the levels reached in 2010 during the post-global financial crisis bounce-back,” IATA said. Capacity in the region increased 3.6 percent in 2016 compared with the previous year.
European airlines posted year-over-year increases of 7.6 percent and 6.7 percent in demand and capacity, respectively, during 2016. According to IATA, the growth corresponds with an increase in reported new export orders in Germany during the last few months of the year and the ongoing weakness of the euro compared with other foreign currencies.
North American airfreight carriers saw volumes grow 2 percent from the previous year, driven in part by an increase in import flows to the U.S. helped by a strong dollar. U.S. exports, on the other hand, remain under pressure from the strength of the dollar, which makes U.S. products more expensive and, therefore, less desirable abroad. Capacity in the region was up 3.4 percent year-over-year in 2016.
Middle Eastern airlines saw volumes jump 6.9 percent from a year earlier, the region’s slowest pace of growth since 2009 and well below the 12 percent 10-year average annual rate.
African carriers experienced a 3.1 percent year-over-year increase in demand, but capacity surged 25.5 percent thanks to a long-haul expansion, particularly by Ethiopian Airlines.
Latin American airfreight carriers, on the other hand, saw demand slip 4.2 percent from a year earlier, the second consecutive year of negative growth, as regional demand continues to be “blighted” by weak economic and political conditions, particularly in Brazil, Latin America’s largest economy. Latin American capacity was down 2 percent compared to 2015, according to IATA.