Research from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) indicated that airfreight volumes increased slightly in May, although numbers were significantly lower than 2010 averages. To IATA, this trend speaks volumes about the current state of the global economy.
Citing the widespread political unrest in the Middle East and the European currency crisis, IATA Director General Emeritus Giovanni Bisignani called the aviation industry “very fragile.”
Nevertheless, he said that May numbers showed some promise. More specifically, he explained that “freight volumes improved by 1.2 percent over April and passenger volumes were up by 1.8 percent. These will help to alleviate some of the pressure on profits from continued high fuel prices.”
Still, cargo tonnage couldn’t compete with May 2010 numbers. Dropping 4 percent from last year, airfreight growth was 3.5 percent lower than IATA’s projection of 5.5 percent. In fact, IATA said, “while the continued expansion of world trade at around 6 percent annually could lend support to accelerated freight growth in the second half of 2011, the performance so far this year has been lower than expected.”
Of all regions, Asia-Pacific carriers posted the biggest losses in May, falling 9.2 percent from May 2010 tonnage. IATA indicated that this is largely attributable to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which occurred only two months prior to the month in question, and more stringent economic policies in China.
May also brought bad news for African carriers, which were affected by the conflicts throughout Egypt and Tunisia: Cargo tonnage for these airlines fell 7.8 percent in May.
European and North American carriers fared the best, however, reporting losses of 2.2 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.