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IATA Report: Double Digit Demand Growth for Freight Continued in August

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) have released data for global air freight markets showing that demand, measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs), increased by 12.1% in August 2017, compared to the same period a year ago. This was the fifth time in six months of double-digit gains on the previous year’s performance. Demand is growing at quickly when compared to the five-year average growth rate of 4.4%.

Freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometers (AFTKs), grew by 4.7% year-on-year in August 2017. Demand growth continues to significantly outstrip capacity growth, which is positive for industry load factors, yields, and financial performance.

The strong performance of air freight demand corresponds with the pick-up in global trade. World trade volumes grew 4.2% in the first seven months of 2017 compared to 2016, their strongest performance since 2011. This is consistent with rising export orders, which are currently around their highest levels since March 2011, and upbeat business confidence indicators.

IATA says signs that the peak of the cyclical growth period may be near also continues. For example, the global inventory-to-sales ratio in the US has stopped falling. This usually means that re-stocking to meet demand (which gives air freight a boost), is ending. The outlook for air freight remains strong. With several months of double-digit growth in 2017, the current IATA forecast of 7.5% growth in air freight demand for 2017 appears to have significant upside potential even if we are approaching a cyclical peak.

“Air cargo had another stellar performance in August. Demand for air cargo grew at a double-digit rate for the fourth month in a row – outperforming demand for passenger travel for the fourth consecutive month. Rapid growth in cargo demand means that cargo capacity is now growing in response to real cargo demand rather than automatically as carriers responded to passenger demand. The pace of capacity growth, however, has slowed even as freighter fleets are being utilized more intensely. Overall, that should be good news for much beleaguered cargo yields,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.