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February 2018 IATA Air Freight Market Analysis
Strong start to 2018 for FTK growth, but upward trend has eased

FTK growth off to its best start to a year since 2015
Industry-wide FTKs increased by 6.8% year-on-year in February, down from 8.5% in the previous month. The changing timing of Lunar New Year can distort annual FTK growth rates during January and February, so it is good practice to consider both months together to get a clearer view of the strength of demand at the start of each year. The latest data indicate a strong start to 2018 for annual growth: FTKs flown in January and February combined were 7.7% higher than in the same period of 2017 – the strongest start to a year on this basis since 2015.

Air freight has outperformed in recent years…

Demand for air freight has benefited in recent years from a stronger global trade backdrop, as well as an inventory restocking cycle. The latter factor helped air freight growth to outperform global goods trade in 2017 by the widest margin since 2010. That said, while yearon-year FTK growth rates remain robust, there are increasing signs that the best of the upturn for air freight is now behind us.

Africa tops the international growth chart once again 
African airlines fly less than 2% of global FTKs but topped the international FTK growth chart in February for the 17th time in 18 months. As we have noted before, the strong growth seen in African airlines’ freight volumes has partly reflected higher volumes between Africa and Asia, on the back of ongoing foreign investment flows into Africa from the latter. While the surge in traffic looks to have stabilized, FTKs on the market segment were still nearly 24% higher in January 2018 than they were a year ago. 

Highlights of the February 2018 Air Freight Market Analysis

  • Industry-wide freight tonne kilometres (FTKs) rose by a robust 7.7% year-on-year in Jan and Feb combined – the strongest start to a year on this basis, which adjusts for potential Lunar New Year distortions, since 2015.
  • Annual FTK growth remains on track for a solid H1 2018. However, as we have noted before, the upward trend in seasonally adjusted (SA) demand has slowed and leading indicators have softened in recent months. Africa posted the fastest rate of annual international FTK growth for the 17 th time in 18 months.
  • Demand grew faster than capacity for the 19th month in a row, but it is now trending up more slowly than capacity. Download the full document here. 

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