Global air freight demand up 13% but may have peaked: IATA

July 7, 2017

GENEVA - International Air Transport Association (IATA) data for global air freight markets shows demand, measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTKs), grew 12.7% in May 2017 compared to the year-earlier period. This was up from the 8.7% annual growth recorded in April 2017 and is more than three times higher than the five year average growth rate of 3.8%.

Freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometres (AFTKs), grew by 5.2% year-on-year in May.

IATA says the continued growth in air freight demand is consistent with an improvement in world trade, in turn corresponding with new global export orders remaining close to a six-year high in May.

“There are, however, some signs that the cyclical growth period may have peaked,” IATA says. “The global inventory-to-sales ratio, for example, has started rising. This indicates that the period when companies look to re-stock inventories quickly, which often gives air cargo a boost, has ended.”

But regardless of these developments, the outlook for air freight is optimistic with demand expected to grow at a robust rate of 8% during Q3 2017, IATA adds.

For Asia-Pacific airlines’ freight volumes expanded 11.3% in May 2017 compared to the same period a year earlier and capacity increased by 6.2%.

Demand growth was strongest, at 13-15%, on international routes within Asia as well as between Asia and Europe.  Seasonally-adjusted volumes are now 3% above volumes reached following the 2010 post-global financial crisis bounce-back. (ATI).