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IATA reports 4.7pc overall drop in global air cargo volumes in February


AIR cargo demand continued to fall in February, as the industry suffered its weakest month in terms of growth over the last three years and load factors dipped again.

Data from IATA shows that freight tonne kilometres decreased by 4.7 per cent year on year in February, while freight capacity rose by 2.7 per cent. It is the third month in a row that the industry registered a decline, London's Air Cargo News reported.

With supply growing faster than demand for the 12th straight month, load factors were down again - falling by 3.5 percentage points year on a year to 44.7 per cent.

Freight traffic for January and February combined is 3.1 per cent lower than the first two months of 2018.

IATA said that demand for air cargo continues to face significant headwinds as a result of trade tensions, weakening global economic activity and consumer confidence, and the Purchasing Managers Index for manufacturing and export orders has indicated falling export orders since September.

IATA's director general Alexandre de Juniac said: 'Cargo is in the doldrums with smaller volumes being shipped over the last four months than a year ago.

'And with order books weakening, consumer confidence deteriorating and trade tensions hanging over the industry, it is difficult to see an early turnaround.

'The industry is adapting to new markets for e-commerce and special cargo shipments. But the bigger challenge is trade is slowing.

'Governments need to realise the damage being done by protectionist measures. Nobody wins a trade war. We all do better when borders are open to people and to trade.'

The organisation lowered its growth forecast for the year to two per cent from 3.7 per cent at its recent World Cargo Symposium since the impact of the China-US trade row was greater than expected.

A breakdown of the results show that all regions reported a contraction in year-on-year demand growth in February 2019, barring Latin America.

Asia Pacific airlines saw demand for air freight contract by 11.6 per cent in February and capacity declined by 3.7 per cent. North American airlines saw demand dip by 0.7 per cent during the month while capacity was up 7.1 per cent.

European airlines experienced a contraction in freight demand of one per cent in February and capacity was up four per cent. Middle Eastern airlines' freight volumes dropped by 1.6 per cent, while capacity grew by 3.1 per cent.

Latin American airlines posted the fastest growth of any region in February with demand rising 2.8 per cent but capacity outstripped demand, up 14.1 per cent.

Finally, African carriers saw freight demand fall by 8.5 per cent in February, while capacity expanded by 6.8 per cent.