GENEVA, Switz.–The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released figures showing a 1.4% expansion of global freight tonne kilometers (FTKs) in 2013 when compared to 2012. Cargo markets made very slow progress during the first half of the year. Acceleration in the trend took root in the latter half of 2013, placing air freight volumes on a steadily increasing trajectory. Capacity grew faster than demand at 2.6% and load factors were weak at 45.3%, said the association.
Regional performance varied. Middle Eastern and Latin American carriers reported the strongest growth in demand (12.8% and 2.4% respectively). Asia-Pacific carriers, which have nearly 40% of the global air freight market, saw cargo activities shrink by 1.0% over the year.
“2013 was a tough year for cargo. While we saw some improvement in demand from the second half of the year, we can still expect that 2014 will be a challenging year. World trade continues to expand more rapidly than demand for air cargo. Trade itself is suffering from increasing protectionist measures by governments. And the relative good fortunes of passenger markets compared to cargo make it difficult for airlines to match capacity to demand,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
In December global FTKs grew 1.8% compared to a year ago. This continues the positive trend in the latter half of 2013, though it was down from the November figure of 6.0%. Capacity grew by 3.6%, taking load factor down 0.8 percentage points on a year ago, to 46.3%.
Asia-Pacific carriers saw freight volumes fall 0.3% in December, and declined 1.0% for 2013 as a whole, compared to 2012. The economic performance of the region was patchy, as was growth in trade volumes, although these have picked up in recent weeks. Despite shrinking demand, capacity grew by 0.8% in 2013.
North American carriers’ air freight volumes contracted 0.5% in December and fell by 0.4% for the whole of 2013, compared to 2012. Indicators of business activity in North America have shown some improvement in recent months, but remain below the levels seen at the start of 2013.
“The dynamics in which the air cargo industry operates are changing, but air cargo’s basic value proposition remains the same. Customers still need speed, quality, reliability and efficiency. And we need to get better at delivering it through improved technology and modern processes. This will be a year of change for air cargo. A key measure of success will be in passing the tipping point on e-air waybill implementation. That will lay the foundation for further improvements for a modern paperless air cargo industry that can only be achieved by aligning all stakeholders—including governments—in a common vision,” said Tyler.