News & Industry Affairs / IATA

August 2019 IATA Air Freight Market Analysis
Air freight declines against softer market backdrop


Highlights

  • Industry-wide air freight tonne kilometres fell by 3.9% year-on-year in August – a faster speed of decline compared to the previous month. As argued before, the industry continues to face headwinds from weakening global trade and softness in a number of key economic indicators.
  • The deterioration in air freight has been broad-based across the regions in August except for Africa that expanded at a solid pace. As was the case for the past nine months, Asia Pacific was the main contributor to the industry decline.
  • Industry-wide air freight capacity increased by 2% compared to a year ago. With capacity rising against contracting demand, the industry-wide air freight load factor dropped by 2.7 percentage points compared to a year ago.

Africa remains the strongest performer
Year-on-year growth in international FTKs either eased or declined further across all regions this month, most notably in Europe, Africa and Latin America. Despite that, Africa continues to top the FTK growth chart for another month, supported by robust outcomes from Asia-Africa trade lanes. This has been partly a result of large-scale investments from key Asia Pacific economies including China which recently confirmed a further US$60bn investment into the continent.


Another month of weakness in air freight

Downward pressure on air cargo intensified in August with industry-wide air freight kilometres (FTKs) down 3.9% year-on-year compared to the 2.4% annual contraction observed in July. Global air freight volumes have been falling in annual terms for ten consecutive months now – the longest period since the global financial crisis in 2008. 

    Following a modest uptick in July, the seasonally adjusted volume (cleared of the seasonal component of the data) returned to the sideways trend observed over recent months. Indeed, the annualized growth rate has been close to zero between April and August, which indicates that the size of the cargo market has stabilized, but at a level 4.4% smaller than mid-2018.

    Shrinking global trade, political uncertainties and weakness in some of the key macroeconomic indicators – particularly the new export orders component of the manufacturing PMI – continue to weigh on this month’s outcome. With the latest wave of trade tariffs between the US and China coming into effect in early September, the outlook for air freight remains downbeat in the near term. 

    The FTK contraction has been broad-based across the regions with the ongoing exception of the smaller Africa and Latin America markets (growth just above zero for the latter). As was the case last month, the large Asia Pacific region has been the main contributor to the decline, accounting for almost a half of the overall contraction. The Middle East and Europe followed, each with ~0.9ppt negative contributions. Download the full document here. 

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