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Air cargo off to a good start in 2018

Following strong demand for manufacturing exports, with companies striving to deliver goods faster, global air freight demand, measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs), rose eight percent in January 2018 compared to the year-earlier period.

“It’s a solid start to 2018 for air cargo,” noted Alexandre de Juniac, International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director General and CEO. “That follows an exceptional year in which demand grew by nine percent. We expect demand for air cargo to taper to a more normal 4.5 percent growth rate for 2018.”

Freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometers (AFTKs), rose by 4.2 percent.

However, the IATA CEO warned of “potential headwinds.”

“If President Donald Trump follows through on his promise to impose sanctions on aluminum and steel imports, there is a very real risk of a trade war. Nobody wins when protectionist measures escalate.”

So far, all regions reported an increase in demand in January 2018.

Asia-Pacific airlines saw demand in freight volumes grow 7.7 percent in January 2018 and capacity increase by 2.2 percent, compared to the same period in 2017.

The increase largely reflects the ongoing strong demand experienced by the region’s major exporters, China and Japan which has been driven in part by a pick-up in economic activity in Europe. However, the upward-trend in seasonally adjusted volumes has paused.

Middle Eastern carriers’ freight volumes increased 4.4 percent year-on-year in January 2018, the slowest growth of all regions. Capacity increased 6.3 percent.

Seasonally adjusted freight volumes continued to trend upwards during the first month of the year, however, the region’s carriers remain affected by the ongoing challenging political environment in the Middle East.

North American airlines’ freight volumes expanded 7.5 percent in January 2018 year-on-year, as capacity increased 4.2 percent. The strength of the US economy and the US dollar have improved the inbound freight market in recent years.

Still, this may be offset by the weakening in the dollar although the recently-agreed US tax reform bill may help to support freight volumes in the period ahead. Seasonally adjusted volumes are broadly trending sideways.

Latin American airlines experienced a growth in demand of 8.0 percent in January. Capacity increased 5.4 percent. The pick-up in demand comes alongside signs of economic recovery in the region’s largest economy, Brazil. Seasonally adjusted international freight volumes are now back to the levels seen at the end of 2014.

European airlines posted a 10.5 percent increase in freight volumes in January 2018. Capacity increased 5.3 percent. The strong European performance corresponds with a very healthy demand for new export orders among the region’s manufacturers.

Seasonally-adjusted volumes jumped 3 percent in month-on-month terms in January – the largest increase since March 2017.

African carriers’ saw freight demand increase by 12.9 percent in January 2018 compared to the same month last year. The increase was helped by very strong growth on the trade lanes to and from Asia.

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