Moderate growth for air cargo in 2013
Geneva: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released
figures showing a 1.4% expansion of global freight tonne kilometres
(FTKs) in 2013 when compared to 2012. Cargo markets made slow progress
during the first half of the year. Acceleration in the trend took root
in the latter half of 2013, placing air freight volumes on a steadily
increasing trajectory. Capacity grew faster than demand at 2.6% and load
factors were weak at 45.3%.
Regional performance varied. Middle Eastern and Latin American
carriers reported the strongest growth in demand (12.8% and 2.4%).
Asia-Pacific carriers, which have nearly 40% of the global air freight
market, saw cargo activities shrink by 1.0% over the year.
"2013 was a tough year for cargo. While we saw some improvement in
demand from the second half of the year, we can still expect that 2014
will be a challenging year," said IATA's Director General and CEO Tony
World trade continues to expand more rapidly than demand for air
cargo. Trade itself is suffering from increasing protectionist measures
by governments. And the relative good fortunes of passenger markets
compared to cargo make it difficult for airlines to match capacity to
demand," he said.
In December global FTKs grew by 1.8% compared to an year ago.
This continues the positive trend in the latter half of 2013, though
it was down from the November figure of 6.0%. Capacity grew by 3.6%,
taking load factor down 0.8 percentage points a year ago, to 46.3%.
Asia-Pacific carriers saw freight volumes fall 0.3% in December, and
declined 1.0% for 2013, compared to 2012.
The economic performance of the region was patchy, as was growth in
trade volumes, although it picked up in recent weeks. Despite shrinking
demand, capacity grew by 0.8% in 2013.
European airlines reported cargo growth of 2.9% in December and 1.8%
for the whole of 2013, the best volume performance of the traditional
'big three' aviation regions.
Manufacturing indicators suggest that the fourth quarter of 2013 was
the strongest for two-and-a-half years, and the outlook, particularly in
Germany, is improving.
North American carriers' air freight volumes contracted 0.5% in
December and fell by 0.4% for the whole of 2013, compared to 2012.
Indicators of business activity in North America have shown some
improvement in recent months, but remain below the levels seen at the
start of 2013.
Middle Eastern carriers continued their strong growth, expanding FTKs
by 13.0% in December and by 12.8% for 2013. The Middle East has
benefited from improving economic conditions in Europe and solid growth
in domestic Gulf economies. Middle Eastern carriers have also captured a
significant share of the increase in the volumes out of Africa.
Latin American airlines' freight volumes fell by5.0% in December, but
increased by 2.4% for 2013. This is a slower pace of growth than in
2012, largely reflecting sluggish growth in Brazil. However, there have
been signs of a steady pick-up since the third quarter of the year.
African airlines saw their freight volumes rise by 1.7% in December and
grow by 1.0% for 2013 overall. African volumes, after a strong start in
2013, suffered from a mid-year lull, which has continued into the second
half of the year, with weakness in major economies like South Africa and
a slowdown in regional trade dampening demand.
"The dynamics in which the air cargo industry operates are changing,
but air cargo's basic value proposition remains the same. Customers
still need speed, quality, reliability and efficiency. And we need to
get better at delivering it through improved technology and modern
processes. This will be a year of change for air cargo.