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January 2017 IATA Air Freight Market Analysis  
Air freight looks to have carried momentum into the New Year

A solid start to the year for air freight
The 6.9% annual increase in global FTKs in January marked an easing from December’s double-digit pace, but it was still well ahead of the five-year average rate (3.0%).

As in recent months, Asia Pacific and European airlines accounted for the majority of the annual change in industry-wide FTKs, alongside solid contributions from North American and Middle Eastern carriers. African airlines also made a modest contribution to the total change, but Latin American carriers were a drag on annual growth for the 23rd time in 25 months. 

Chinese New Year is a complicating factor
The timing of Chinese New Year can complicate year-on-year comparisons at this time of year, and we will have to wait until February data are available to get a clearer view of the strength of air freight in early 2017. Nonetheless, the January data suggest that the upward momentum in seasonally adjusted (SA) trend has carried into the New Year.

The pick-up in the SA trend since the middle of 2016 has coincided with a steady rise in the new export orders component of the global purchasing managers’ index (PMI). This measure reached its highest level since March 2011 in February, underlining the health of global manufacturers’ export order books and seemingly consistent with ongoing solid FTK growth in H1 2017. Encouragingly, the latest surveys point to a broadening in exporter strength around the world: the new export orders component for emerging markets jumped back above the 50-mark in January, driven by China, while the same indicator for advanced markets has also continued to edge higher (the component in both Japan and Germany is at or close to three-year highs).

Highlights of the January 2017 Air Freight Market Analysis

  • Global air freight tonne kilometres (FTKs) grew by 6.9% year-on-year in January 2017.
  • The timing of Chinese New Year can complicate analysis at this time of year, but the upward momentum in air freight that built up during the second half of 2016 appears to have continued into the New Year. 
  • Protectionist rhetoric has risen, but business surveys continue to point to solid growth in air freight in early 2017.
  • The seasonally adjusted load factor has risen strongly in recent months, and is almost back to its 2014 level. Download the full document here. 

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