The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has published 2019 data for global air freight markets showing that demand, measured in freight tonnes kilometers (FTKs), fell by 3.3% compared to 2018 while capacity (AFTK) rose by 2.1%.
According to the report, 2019 was the first year of declining freight volumes since 2012, and the weakest performance since the global financial crisis in 2009 (when air freight markets contracted by 9.7%).
In the month of December, cargo volumes contracted 2.7% year-on-year while capacity rose 2.8 per cent.
All markets except Africa suffered volume declines in 2019. Asia-Pacific retained the largest share of FTKs, at 34.6%. The share of freight traffic increased modestly for both North America and Europe, to 24.2 per cent and 23.7 per cent, respectively.
Despite the sluggish demand trend, our correspondent reports that the closure of land borders in Nigeria buoyed cargo volumes at Nigeria’s major airports.
Analysis of the cargo movements at the Murtala Muhammed Airport from August 2019 when the border closure took effect indicated that the busiest airport in the country recorded over 120 per cent increase.
According to IATA report, African carriers saw freight demand increase by 10.3% in December 2019, compared to the same month in 2018. This was reflected in the strong 2019 full-year performance, which saw Africa freight volumes expand 7.4%. Capacity in December grew by 10% and for 2019 in total, increased by 13.3%. Over the year, air cargo volumes have been supported by strong capacity growth and investment linkages with Asia.
Middle East carriers’ traffic share held steady at 13%. Africa and Latin America saw their shares lift marginally, to 1.8% and 2.8%.
IATA representing over 290 airlines controlling over 80 per cent of global traffic in the report stated that Air cargo’s performance in 2019 was dampened by weak growth in global trade of just 0.9%.
The sector’s underperformance was also due in particular to slowing GDP growth in manufacturing-intensive economies. Softer business and consumer confidence, along with falling export orders, also contributed to air freight struggles, the report said.
IATA’s Director General and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac however said there are signs that confidence and orders could pick up in 2020 despite the Coronavirus outbreak ravaging China and some South-East Asian countries.
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