With West Africa leading the growth that was witnessed in January 2013 in the demand for air freight in Africa, the continent recorded a growth of 3.7 percent amidst signs of stabilisation of global air cargo operations.
“African airlines reported a demand increase of 3.7 percent while capacity expanded by 13.9 percent. The region’s carriers benefitted from strong economic growth, particularly in West Africa,” the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in global air freight demand statistics for January 2013.
The statistics shows a stabilisation of air freight markets on the back of encouraging growth towards the end of 2012. Compared to the previous year, demand for air freight was apparently very strong, with a rise of 5.0 percent.
“However, the rise was from an exceptionally low base, caused by
the timing of Chinese New Year, which occurred in February this year, skewing year-on-year comparisons as many Asian factories closed and last year the holiday period occurred in January. Compared to the level of Freight Tonne Kilometers (FTK) in December, air freight volumes in January were 0.9 percent lower. Year-on-year, capacity expanded by 2.1percent and the global load factor stood at 41.9 percent.
“The air freight business is showing some encouraging signs. But it’s too early to be overly optimistic. While the decline has stopped, overall volumes are still below the levels of 2010 and 2011. Load factors are low and the global economy is fragile. Our forecast remains for modest demand growth of 1.4 percent. But with weak load factors, yields are going to continue to be under severe downward pressure,” Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General said.
Regional figures show that Asia-Pacific carriers, which represent some 39.2 percent of global air cargo, saw year-on-year demand growth of 7.1 percent while capacity was down 0.4 percent.
North American airlines saw a modest 0.6 percent growth compared to January 2012, while capacity was trimmed by 1.0 percent.
European airlines reported demand growth of 1.2 percent year-on-year, which was half the 2.4 percent growth in capacity. “Persistent economic weakness
in the Eurozone, which is a major market for air freighted consumer goods, is dampening global world trade growth, and will limit the growth in air freight volumes in 2013”, Tyler added. Middle Eastern airlines continued to be the most rapidly growing, the fastest-growing, reporting a demand increase of 16.3 percent over January 2012. This was ahead of a 12.4% capacity expansion.
The region’s airlines continue to benefit from route and capacity expansion into rapidly growing economies in West Africa and Asia.
“Air cargo is important to the global economy and everyday life. By value, nearly a third of goods traded internationally are shipped by air. Jobs and economic opportunities are created by connecting goods to markets. And lives are enriched by the global trade of products and services which is made possible by air connectivity. Supporting the sector’s success is in everybody’s interest,” said Tyler.