Global freight demand slowed 3.5 percent, year-over-year, in October, according to International Air Transport Association statistics. Also lagging in October was freight load factor, which fell from 46.7 percent to 46.1 percent, year-over-year. Hurricane Sandy, which wrecked unprecedented havoc on the U.S. East Coast last month, only complicated the situation, IATA explained in a press release.
“Slowing world trade and weak business confidence are affecting demand for air travel, while Hurricane Sandy delivered a concentrated punch to U.S. domestic and North Atlantic travel. And its impact was felt globally,” Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO, said in a statement.
“Airlines are managing the softer passenger demand environment by limiting capacity growth to keep load factors high,” Tyler added. “But the rapid decline in freight traffic is outrunning the industry’s ability to respond.”
Freight volumes particularly lagged in the Asia-Pacific and North America in October. Asia-Pacific cargo carriers saw traffic slide 6.8 percent, year-over-year, in October, amid a 4.6-percent, year-over-year, capacity drop. In the press release, IATA said that sluggish Asian export levels contributed greatly to these declines.
North American carriers, which were hit the hardest by Hurricane Sandy, recorded a 5.3-percent, year-over-year, drop in freight demand in October, amid a 5.4-percent, year-over-year, capacity reduction. Their European counterparts also reported sluggish cargo levels in October, with volumes plunging 4.3 percent, year-over-year. Unfortunately, carriers in this region didn’t match capacity with demand; European airlines only curbed freight capacity by 1.7 percent, year-over-year, in October.
Even so, Latin American and Middle Eastern carriers saw healthy cargo volumes in October, with Middle Eastern carriers significantly outperforming their Latin American rivals. For the ninth consecutive month, Gulf airlines recorded double-digit freight growth in October, with traffic surging 13.4 percent, year-over-year, amid an 8.6 percent, year-over-year, capacity increase. Freight load factor also rose in the Middle East in October, improving 2 percent, year-over-year, to 46.4 percent.
Cargo traffic similarly increased in Latin America last month, with cargo demand climbing 0.9 percent, year-over-year. Still, the region’s 8.6-percent, year-over-year, hike in capacity in October caused freight load factor to fall 3-percent, year-over-year, to 39.3 percent. Disappointing or not, this is considerably better than the load factor recorded in Africa last month: a dismal 26.6 percent.