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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Middle East carriers' share of international freight slips, says Iata 

The share of international freight flown by regional carriers has dropped however demand has increased in the first half of the year

Regional freight demand grew 7.6 per cent year-on-year in the first half, below the 10.8 per cent average annual rate over the past five years. Courtesy Emirates Group
Regional freight demand grew 7.6 per cent year-on-year in the first half, below the 10.8 per cent average annual rate over the past five years. Courtesy Emirates Group

Middle East carriers’ share of international freight flown in the first half of this year slipped for the first time in 17 years, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) said on Wednesday.

The regional airlines’ share fell to 13.9 per cent from 14 per cent in a year-earlier period, Geneva-based Iata said, without citing a reason.

In contrast, regional freight demand, measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs), grew 7.6 per cent year-on-year in the first half, below the 10.8 per cent average annual rate over the past five years, while capacity increased 1.5 per cent in the first half.

“The slowdown in growth is mainly due to strong competition from carriers in other regions particularly on the Asia-Europe route rather than a significant decrease in demand which has continued to trend upwards at a solid rate of around 10 per cent in annualised terms since early 2017,” Iata said.

In June, freight volumes grew 3.7 per cent year-on-year, while capacity rose 2.2 per cent.

Globally, demand rose 10.4 per cent in the first half, the best half-year performance since 2010 and almost triple the industry’s average growth rate of 3.9 per cent over the past five years.

“Air cargo is flying high on the back of a stronger global economy. Demand is growing at a faster pace than at any time since the Global Financial Crisis,” said Iata chief executive Alexandre de Juniac. “That’s great news after many years of stagnation. And, even more importantly, the industry is taking advantage of this momentum to accelerate much-needed process of modernisation and improve the value it provides to its many customers.”

Freight capacity, globally measured in available freight tonne kilometers (AFTKs), increased by 3.6 per cent year-on-year in the first half of 2017.

In June, global freight demand grew 11 per cent, while capacity increased 5.2 per cent.

Global trade is expected to recover this year, after poor performance last year.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is projecting that global trade will rise 2.4 per cent this year, up from 1.3 per cent last year, when growth was at the lowest rate in volume terms since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008.

WTO blamed a weak global economy for last year’s poor trade growth.

Middle East carriers saw demand measured in revenue passenger kilometres grow just 3.7 per cent year-on-year in May, almost an eight-year low, as the laptop ban slapped by the United States on regional carriers dented traffic, according to Iata. Capacity continue to outstrip demand, growing at 5.7 per cent.

“Although year-to-year comparisons are distorted by the strong performance for the same period a year ago, the slowdown also reflects the ban on the carriage of large portable electronics devices in the cabin from 10 airports in the region to the US, as well as a wider impact on inbound travel to the US from president Donald Trump’s proposed travel bans,” the aviation body said.