Last month, global air cargo capacity rose 2.1 percent, year over year, outpacing a 0.8 percent rise in traffic and causing load factors to decline to 44.9 percent, a lowpoint since the recovery, according to the International Air Transport Association.
Association officials blame the cargo stall, which follows an 18-month trend of flatlined air cargo activity, on soft growth in emerging economies. They point out that an upturn in the near future is unlikely because business confidence is declining.
“It is getting harder to find optimistic signs for air cargo growth. The Middle East remains a bright spot, and the rate of decline in the Eurozone is easing. But this is offset by the weakening of expansion in Asia-Pacific,” Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general, said in a statement. “It is now clear that the positive global upswing in air cargo at the end of 2012 was an illusion. Air cargo, along with many parts of the world economy, appears to be in suspended animation at the moment.”
Asia-Pacific activity is mired in a bit of a funk, as volumes in May fell 0.5 percent on a 0.3 percent capacity increase. Year to date, cargo activity has fallen 2.5 percent compared to the same period in 2012.
In May, carriers in North America saw a 1.9 percent, year-over-year decline in cargo activity, but capacity only bumped up 0.1 percent. Cargo demand on the transatlantic route from the United States is particularly weak, officials said.
Middle Eastern carriers served as one of the bright spots in May, generating 9.7-percent growth in cargo activity. Cargo has ticked up 10.9 percent so far this year.
“In addition to their aggressive hub strategy at the crossroads of East and West, and the growth of routes out of Africa to China, the Gulf-based carriers have also been air freighting goods that have arrived by sea. In addition new routes from the Gulf to Japan are set to benefit from an upswing in Japanese exports,” according to IATA.
European carriers saw the only other significant cargo increases in May, experiencing a 1 percent rise in activity. This bump follows months of little or no growth, but with business confidence in the region improving, IATA officials hope that actibity will increase in the coming months. - Jon Ross