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Eurozone woes cripple global aviation

By Hpanchal on June 11, 2012

Three-quarters of the world’s top 20 freight airports reported lower cargo volumes in April, according to Airports Council International statistics. The contraction in freight traffic was particularly strong in North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific, with these regions experiencing April declines of 7 percent, 4.3 percent and 3.1 percent, year-over-year, respectively. Financial problems in Europe, however, reverberated throughout the world.

In total, cargo volumes at global airports fell 4 percent, year-over-year, in April. Some airports fared much worse, however, with Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Alaska, Shanghai Pudong International Airport and Frankfurt Airport each reporting respective, year-over-year, declines of 16.7 percent, 12.3 percent and 10.8 percent, in April.

Rafael Echevarne, ACI’s director of economics and program development, largely attributed these losses to financial problems in the eurozone. “The European debt problem is having a contagion effect on other economies and trading partners,” he said in a statement. “Traffic volume in airfreight has been curtailed not only in the economies of Europe, but also in the trading hubs of North America, [the] Asia-Pacific and Latin America.”

The International Air Transport Association has also spoken out about Europe’s economic woes, addressing their impact on global aviation. In a press release, IATA indicated that problems in the eurozone have led the association to reiterate its expected $3 billion industry profit for 2012, despite a drop in oil prices and the “bottoming out” of freight markets.

“A few months ago, an oil price crisis was the biggest risk,” IATA Director General and CEO Tony Tyler said in a statement. “Now all eyes are back on Europe. Markets are expecting the eurozone sovereign debt crisis to intensify and economic damage to follow. But with little clarity on how European governments will manage the situation beyond providing further liquidity, the risk of a major downward shift in economic prospects is very real.

“The next months are critical, and the implications are big,” Tyler continued.

IATA officials project that financial instability in the eurozone will also impair cargo growth in 2012. Although Middle Eastern carriers are reporting a major uptick in cargo volumes, economic weakness in Europe is likely to limit growth, IATA said in the press release.

Overall, IATA is forecasting that 47.8 million tonnes of cargo will be flown in 2012, a slight improvement over the 47.7 million tonnes transported in 2011.

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