News & Industry Affairs/IATA news

April 2019 IATA Air Freight Market Analysis
Air cargo volumes fall as market outlook remains soft


Highlights of the April 2019 Air Freight Market Analysis

  • Industry-wide freight tonne kilometres (FTKs) for April fell by 4.7% compared with their level of a year ago. The monthly outcomes have shown significant volatility over the first half of 2019, although in seasonally adjusted terms, the figures appear to have stabilized.
  • At the same time, air freight capacity continues to grow moderately, up 2.6% year-on-year, meaning the freight load factor is currently 3.5 percentage points lower than a year ago.
  • All regions experienced a deterioration in year-on-year FTK growth this month, with the weakest outcomes seen in Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific.
  • Headwinds continue to confront air freight growth, with leading indicators pointing to further near-term weakness.

Africa shows continued momentum
As in March, Africa is the strongest performer on the international market segment in April, with FTKs currently up 4.6% year-on-year. The relatively small market size (~1.5% of total international FTKs) helps to explain both the outsized month-to-month volatility and limits the overall contribution of the region to the industry-wide total. Looking through this volatility, following strong growth in late 2016 and into 2017 which was only partly unwound last year, SA international FTKs for the African carriers are still more than 30% higher than their level of three years ago.


Air cargo volumes fall 

Industry-wide FTK growth fell again this month, with annual growth remaining in negative territory. FTKs are currently 4.7% lower than their year-ago level, after seeing unchanged year-on-year growth last month.
   As we have noted previously, the freight data have particularly volatile in 2019 to date. The timing of both Chinese New Year and Easter have contributed to these outcomes, clearly evident in the ‘actual’ (unadjusted) data series shown on Chart 1. 
    With that in mind, the seasonally-adjusted (SA) series shown above is designed to remove the impact of such regular variations. On this basis, and despite also showing a slight uptick this month, air freight volumes are down 2.5% over the past year, remaining at around their level of mid-2017. Since their most recent peak in August 2018, freight volumes are down more than 3%.
    This month is the second consecutive improvement in SA levels after the trough in February. Even so, the US-China trade dispute has continued to weigh upon the world trade outcomes and outlook, evidenced by the weakness in recent activity out of important air freight hubs such as Hong Kong and Shanghai.
    The small positive contributions to annual FTK growth from Africa and Latin America in April were more than offset by worsening performances in the other larger regions...Download the full document here. 

Back to IATA news >