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Global air freight surges 9pc in 2017, best performance since 2010: IATA

SDI Logistics Co.,Ltd | Updated: Feb 05, 2018

THE International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecasts global air freight markets will see "very healthy 4.5 per cent expansion" in 2018 - measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTKs) - albeit it far lower than the nine per cent demand growth recorded in 2017, which was more than double the 3.6 per cent annual growth recorded in 2016.

Last year, air freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometres (AFTKs), grew by three per cent, representing the slowest annual capacity growth since 2012. Demand growth outpaced capacity growth by a factor of three.

Air cargo's strong performance in 2017 was sealed by a strong result in December when demand growth rose 5.7 per cent year on year. Freight capacity expanded 3.3 per cent in December over the same month the previous year.

Full year 2017 demand for air freight grew at twice the pace of the expansion in world trade, which grew 4.3 per cent. This outperformance was a result of strong global demand for manufacturing exports as companies moved to restock inventories quickly. All regions recorded an increase in demand.

IATA's director general Alexandre de Juniac said: "Air cargo had its strongest performance since the rebound from the global financial crisis in 2010.

"The outlook for air freight in 2018 is optimistic. Consumer confidence is buoyant. And we see growing strength in international e-commerce and the transport of time and temperature-sensitive goods such as pharmaceuticals," he said.

Asia Pacific carriers saw demand in freight volumes grow 5.6 per cent year on year in December. This contributed to a growth in freight demand of 7.8 per cent in 2017, while capacity increased by 1.3 per cent.

The strong performance of Asia Pacific carriers in 2017 largely reflects the ongoing demand for exports from the region's major exporters China and Japan which has been driven in part by a pick-up in economic activity in Europe and a continued solid performance from the US. 

North American airlines saw freight demand increase 5.4 per cent in December year on year and capacity increase 2.2 per cent. This contributed to an annual growth in 2017 of 7.9 per cent. Capacity grew 1.6 per cent in 2017. Looking towards 2018, the US tax reform bill may help to support freight volumes in the period ahead although this may be offset by the recent weakening in the dollar.

European airlines posted a five per cent year-on-year increase in freight demand in December and a capacity rise of 3.2 per cent. The strong performance in December boosted cargo volumes for 2017 by 11.8 per cent. 

Middle Eastern carriers' freight volumes rose by 6.3 per cent year on year in December and capacity increased by 4.7 per cent. This contributed to an annual increase in demand of 8.1 per cent in 2017 on a capacity increase of 2.6 per cent. 

Latin American airlines experienced a growth in demand of 4.9 per cent in December and a capacity increase of 11.6 per cent. This contributed to an annual growth in freight demand of 5.7 per cent and a capacity hike of 3.1 per cent in 2017. 

African carriers posted the fastest growth in year-on-year freight volumes, up 15.6 per cent in December. This contributed to an annual growth in freight demand of 24.8 per cent in 2017