Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 17 October 2019

Global air cargo volumes continue to slide in June as trade tensions bite

Middle East and Asia-Pacific carriers record sharpest declines in cargo volumes in June, International Air Transport Association says

A model Emirates SkyCargo aircraft. Middle East carriers saw a drop in freight volumes in June. Reem Mohammed/ The National
A model Emirates SkyCargo aircraft. Middle East carriers saw a drop in freight volumes in June. Reem Mohammed/ The National

Middle East carriers posted the sharpest declines in freight volumes globally in June as escalating trade tensions added to an eight-month drop in global air cargo volumes.

Regional airlines' freight volumes fell 7 per cent in June compared to the same month a year ago as seasonally-adjusted demand continued to fall since late 2018, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) said in its monthly report on Wednesday. Freight volumes to Europe and Asia-Pacific were particularly weak, sliding 7.2 per cent and 6.5 per cent, respectively.

"Global trade continues to suffer as trade tensions - particularly between the US and China - deepen," said Alexandre de Juniac, Iata’s director-general. "As a result, air cargo markets continue to contract."

Global trade growth is slowing and business uncertainty is compounded by the latest tariff increases in the US-China trade dispute.

Global air freight demand, measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs), declined 4.8 per cent in June year-on-year, making it the eight month of consecutive declines in cargo volumes.

"Nobody wins a trade war. Borders that are open to trade spread sustained prosperity. That’s what our political leaders must focus on,” Mr de Juniac said.

The Middle East showed the sharpest drop in freight volumes, followed by Asia-Pacific, while Africa was the only region that recorded growth globally, according to Iata, which represents about 290 airlines comprising 82 per cent of global air traffic.

Asia-Pacific airlines recorded a 5.4 per cent decline in demand for air freight in June compared to the same period in 2018. While the US-China trade war is an important factor, it is not the only reason for the fall, Iata said. Freight traffic within Asia has dropped more than 10 per cent over the past year while air freight capacity increased by 1.8 per cent over the same period.

North American airlines’ freight demand decreased by 4.6 per cent in June year-on-year as US-China trade tensions weigh on their performance, with actual freight traffic to Asia down 5 per cent, according to Iata. Traffic on routes to and from Europe, South America and Middle East were also lower.

African carriers reported growth a 3.8 per cent increase in demand in June compared to the same month a year ago, as capacity rose 16.6 per cent.

That makes Africa the best performer for the fourth consecutive month, Iata said. Route analysis shows that the Africa-Asia freight performance was strong, with volumes growing 12 per cent year-on-year.

Updated: August 7, 2019 04:42 PM

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