Global airfreight markets declined 4.2 percent, year-over-year, in April, according to International Air Transport Association statistics. Even so, April cargo demand was 2 percent higher than November 2011 levels, a fact attributable to the 14.5-percent, year-over-year, surge in Middle Eastern freight traffic.
Unfortunately, capacity outpaced demand in this region. According to a press release, Middle Eastern carriers increased capacity by 15.1 percent, year-over-year, in April. The same phenomenon occurred among African carriers, with airlines in this region reporting a 6.1-percent, year-over-year, surge in demand, amid a 9-percent, year-over-year, capacity increase.
Asia-Pacific and European carriers only saw declines in April, however. Although airlines in the Asia-Pacific recorded a more dramatic drop — with cargo demand plunging 7.3 percent, year-over-year, in April, on a capacity decrease of 4.1 percent — European carriers also reported a difficult month for cargo. Freight demand fell 4.9 percent, year-over-year, in Europe last month, despite a 0.2-percent, year-over-year, capacity cut.
April cargo demand also lagged in North America and Latin America, with carriers in these regions recording year-over-year losses of 6.4 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively. Capacity discrepancies existed, however. North American carriers slashed cargo capacity by 2.9 percent, year-over-year, in April, while Latin American airlines offered 8.8 percent more freight space than they did in April 2011.
According to IATA, cargo markets also took a nosedive in the first half of 2011, although they bottomed out toward the end of the year. Because of this, the airfreight sector has seen “various distortions and month-to-month volatility” since the beginning of 2012, IATA explained in the press release.
Still, IATA Director General and CEO Tony Tyler is hopeful that cargo has finally leveled out. “Amid the many distortions that have marked the first four months of the year, it is possible to identify the start of a growth trend in cargo for some parts of the world,” Tyler said in a statement. “But economic uncertainty in Europe makes it very difficult to be optimistic in the near to medium-term.”