Despite slight growth in December, freight markets plummeted 8 percent, year-over-year, in January, International Air Transport Association data revealed. Cargo load factor also took a nosedive last month, dropping from 44.3 percent in January 2011 to 41 percent; capacity fell 0.6 percent, year-over-year.
IATA attributes such losses — and the 2.5 percent drop in global cargo markets from December to January — to the impact of factory closures resulting from the Chinese New Year. This event also led to the respective 8.1 percent and 7 percent, year-over-year, declines in international and domestic demand, according to a press release.
Asia-Pacific and European airlines were hit the hardest by this phenomenon, with international decline for these carriers sliding 14 percent and 9.6 percent, year-over-year, respectively. “In addition to the impact of the holiday, the peripheral economies in Europe have been in recession and attracting little inbound freight,” according to the press release. “Until recently, this had been offset by strong outbound traffic flows from northern European economies.”
Even so, some freight carriers saw growth in January. Middle Eastern airlines, for instance, experienced a 9.4 percent, year-over-year, surge in demand, the strongest performance of any regional carrier, according to IATA. Latin American cargo carriers also recorded growth last month, with volumes surging 2.2 percent from January 2011.
North American and African freight carriers weren’t so lucky, however. Volumes for these airlines fell 4 percent and 3.7 percent, year-over-year, respectively.
While freight markets showed mixed results in January, passenger traffic was strong across the board. Global passenger volumes surged 5.7 percent, year-over-year, last month, with Middle Eastern airlines recording a 14.5 percent, year-over-year, traffic increase. European carriers also performed considerably well in terms of passenger volumes, posting 5.5 percent, year-over-year, growth.
To IATA Director General and CEO Tony Tyler, these numbers speak volumes about the importance of aviation to regional and global economies. “The aviation industry is a catalyst for economic growth,” he said in a statement. “Measures to boost competitiveness — not taxes or restrictions — are immediately needed, along with a long-term vision to support sustainable economic growth through much-needed infrastructure investments.”
A staunch opponent of the EU’s emissions trading scheme, Tyler touts a global approach to sustainability developed though the International Civil Aviation Organization. “Such a holistic policy approach will keep communities sustainably connected to global economic opportunities,” he stated.