Global freight volumes rebounded late last year, despite weak traffic throughout 2011, International Air Transport Association data revealed. Growing 0.2 percent, year-over-year, in December, cargo markets recorded a 0.7 percent, year-over-year, loss for the entire 12-month period.
Freight demand was especially strong in December, with domestic and international demand increasing a respective 3.2 percent and 1.5 percent from the previous month. December domestic cargo demand also surged from an annual standpoint, increasing 5.5 percent, year-over-year.
Such statistics speak to rebounding economies around the globe, IATA explained. “Surveys are now showing that business confidence, a leading indicator for changes in cargo markets, turned up in December, suggesting that industrial production and international trade may be stabilizing,” according to a press release.
Full-year results tell a vastly different story, however. Cargo load factor dropped to 45.9 percent in 2011 amid a 4.1 percent, year-over-year, capacity increase. Although some carriers reduced their freighter fleets to address this discrepancy, the introduction of twin-aisle passenger aircraft offset such measures, according to the press release.
Passenger markets also saw a surge in capacity in 2011. Up 6.3 percent from 2010, capacity increases helped carriers meet the 5.9 percent, year-over-year, hike in passenger demand.
International passenger markets performed particularly well last year, with global air travel increasing 6.9 percent, year-over-year. Nevertheless, these markets plateaued in the last four months of 2011, growing only 1.2 percent, year-over-year.
Moving forward, IATA Director General and CEO Tony Tyler is cautiously optimistic about the state of passenger and freight markets. “Improving business confidence and encouraging news from the U.S. economy are heartening developments,” he said in a statement. “But it is far too early to start predicting a soft landing for 2012.”
“The eurozone crisis is far from over,” Tyler continued. “Failure to achieve a durable solution will have dire consequences for economies around the world. And it would most certainly tip the airline industry into the red.”