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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Middle East  cargo demand grows in October on robust Europe and Asia trade

Global air freight demand rose 3.1% in during the period on growing e-commerce and investments, Iata says

Alexandre de Juniac, CEO of IATA. Middle East air freight demand outstripped global levels in October year-on-year. Mona Al Marzooqi/The National
Alexandre de Juniac, CEO of IATA. Middle East air freight demand outstripped global levels in October year-on-year. Mona Al Marzooqi/The National

Middle East air freight demand, measured in freight tonne kilometres, grew in October as the region's trade with Europe and Asia increased, the International Air Transport Association said.

The region's cargo volumes grew five per cent in October compared to the same month a year ago, the industry body said on Wednesday. Global air freight demand rose 3.1 per cent year-on-year in October, up from a 29-month low of 2.5 per cent in September, and spurred by investments and growing e-commerce business.

"We can be cautiously optimistic as we approach the end of 2018," Iata chief executive Alexandre de Juniac, said. "Slow but steady growth continues despite trade tensions."

The International Monetary Fund last week urged G-20 leaders to de-escalate trade tensions and reverse trade tariff increases or risk a slowdown in the global economy from protectionism. Rising trade tensions are hurting the global economy as implemented and threatened trade tariffs could wipe out a third of global gross domestic product by 2020, the fund warned. US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping agreed to a temporary ceasefire in the trade war between the world's two biggest economies by halting the imposition of new tariffs for 90 days and intensifying their trade talks.

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All regions reported year-on-year air freight demand growth in October, except Africa which contracted by 4.2 per cent, Iata said.

North American carriers posted the fastest cargo growth globally in October as a strong US economy and consumer spending helped boost demand for air cargo over the past year.

"The growth of e-commerce is more than making up for sluggishness in more traditional markets," Mr de Juniac said. "Yields are strengthening in the traditionally busy fourth quarter."

Iata warned global air freight demand is being dented by declines in the orderbooks of major exporting nations in October and weaker consumer confidence compared to very high levels at the beginning of the year.

Global freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometres, rose by 5.4 per cent year-on-year in October, which was the eighth consecutive month in which capacity growth outstripped demand.

"We must be conscious of the economic headwinds, but the industry looks set to bring the year to a close on a positive note,” Mr de Juniac said.