News & Industry Affairs / IATA

May 2019 IATA Air Freight Market Analysis
Air cargo volumes still soft, on broad-based regional weakness


  • Industry-wide freight tonne kilometres (FTKs) fell by 3.4% over the year to May. In seasonally adjusted terms, the level of FTKs ticked up modestly for the third consecutive month, suggesting that we may be past the low point of this cycle, although the recovery remains tentative at this stage. The weakness in freight volumes compared with a year ago remains broad-based across regions, with Asia Pacific and Middle East most affected. 
  • In response, airlines have slowed the rate of growth in capacity to just 1.3% year-on-year but the load factor is still 2.3 percentage points lower than a year ago. 
  • Tentative signs of a thawing in US-China trade relations are welcomed, but the near-term risks to air freight growth remain tilted to the downside.

Africa posts the strongest global performance
Airlines in the smaller Africa international market posted a swift 8.3% growth compared to the same period last year, making Africa the strongest performer on that measure for the 3rd consecutive month. In SA terms, international freight volumes for Africa are at a record-high level since the start of our series in 1990. However, we note that both the concentration of products shipped and size of the market (1.6% of total FTKs) still remain relatively small in the global context.

Air cargo volumes continue to languish

Annual growth in industry-wide in air freight tonne kilometres (FTKs) remained in negative territory in May, down 3.4% compared with their level of a year ago. 

    This is a modest improvement from April, which saw FTKs slip by 5.6% in year-on-year (y-o-y) terms, suggesting that while the market remains weak, it is not collapsing. 

    In fact, when the effect of the regular seasonal fluctuations are removed from the data, the level of industry-wide FTKs is showing tentative signs of having passed the low-point of the current cycle. The recent increases have been modest, however, with the recovery remaining fragile.

    The weakness in freight volumes compared with a year ago remains broad-based. As was the case in April, Africa and Latin America contributed positively to the industry-wide year-on-year FTK growth result...Download the full document here. 

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