Air cargo data shows weak start to 2020: IATA

Date: Wednesday, March 4, 2020
Source: Air Cargo World

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released preliminary data for January indicating that total industrywide cargo traffic, measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs), has decreased by 3.3% year over year. January marked the 10th consecutive month of YoY declines in cargo volumes, starting the industry on weak footing entering 2020, IATA stated.

“There was optimism that an easing of U.S.-China trade tensions would give the sector a boost in 2020,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO. “But that has been overtaken by the COVID-19 outbreak, which has severely disrupted global supply chains, although it did not have a major impact on January’s cargo performance. Tough times are ahead. The course of future events is unclear, but this is a sector that has proven its resilience time and again.”

Meanwhile, industrywide cargo capacity, measured in available cargo tonne kilometers (ACTKs), rose 0.9% YoY for the month of January. Capacity growth has now outstripped growth in demand for 21 consecutive months, according to IATA.

YoY growth in industrywide available cargo tonne kilometers (ACTKs) eased to 0.9%, down from 3.8% in December 2019, according to IATA. With capacity expanding against contracting demand, the industrywide cargo load factor fell by 1.9 percentage points compared to the same period last year.

Freight volumes fell by single digits across most key regions except Africa and Latin America for the month.

Continuing the trend that emerged in mid-2018, Africa topped growth in all regions, with air cargo demand increasing 6.8% YoY in January. Capacity grew 5.9% YoY, despite the small size of the region’s market, which makes up 1.8% of the world’s share of airfreight. Latin America saw an increase of 1.4% YoY in demand for air cargo, and a 2.4% YoY increase in capacity.

Meanwhile, carriers based in Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia saw continued declines in total air cargo demand in the low- to mid-single digits in January.

IATA’s report commented on the novel coronavirus’ impact on the industry, saying it is unlikely the outbreak had much to do with January’s weak performance. The Chinese Lunar New Year in 2020 occurred earlier than in 2019 and therefore skewed 2020 numbers toward weakness as many Chinese manufacturers were closed for the holiday period. Therefore, February performance will give a better picture of how the virus is impacting global air cargo.

Note: As of January 2020, IATA adjusted the terminology for its reports from “freight” to “cargo” in the corresponding metrics being FTK (change to CTK), AFTK (change to ACTK) and FLF (change to CLF). This reflects that the metrics consists of cargo —freight plus mail — rather than freight.


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