Geneva, Switzerland —The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is optimistic that air cargo will rebound next year, after hitting a three-year low in 2019.
IATA, at its annual global media days, said freight tonnes carried are expected to recover to 62.4 million, a 2.0% increase over 61.2 million tonnes carried in 2019.
According to IATA officials, cargo traffic turned negative last year for the first time since 2012. The 3.3% annual decline in demand was the steepest drop since 2009 during the Global Financial Crisis. Freight carriage, meanwhile, slipped to 61.2 million tonnes from 63.3 million tonnes in 2018. Yields will continue to slide with a 3.0% decline forecast for 2020, an improvement from a 5.0% decline in 2019. Cargo revenues will slip for a third year in 2020 with revenues expected to total $101.2 billion, down 1.1% from 2019.
“Slowing economic growth, trade wars, geopolitical tensions and social unrest, plus continuing uncertainty over Brexit all came together to create a tougher than anticipated business environment for airlines,” Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO, told an audience of international journalists. “Yet the industry managed to achieve a decade in the black, as restructuring and cost-cutting continued to pay dividends. It appears that 2019 will be the bottom of the current economic cycle and the forecast for 2020 is somewhat brighter.”
Economic performance in 2019 was weaker than had been anticipated at the time of the June forecast. This aligns with weaker global GDP growth of 2.5% (versus 2.7% forecast in June) and world trade growth of just 0.9% (down from 2.5% forecast in June). These negative developments contributed to softer passenger and cargo demand and corresponding weaker revenue growth, as passenger yields fell 3.0% and cargo yields dropped 5.0% compared to 2018.