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January 2018 IATA Air Freight Market Analysis
Growth in air freight volumes makes a robust start to 2018

Chinese New Year can distort things at year-start
Industry-wide FTKs increased by 8.0% year-on-year in January 2018, up from 5.8% in December. 

As always, the shifting timing of Chinese New Year can distort annual growth rates at the start of each year. We will have to wait until we have February data to get a more complete picture of the strength of freight demand during the opening months of 2018.

Demand drivers remain supportive…

The demand drivers of air freight remain supportive, with global manufacturers in particular still reporting buoyant demand for their exports. Moreover, signs of rising bottlenecks in global supply chains should also benefit air freight over other modes of transport. Periods in which global manufacturing firms have reported longer supplier delivery times have been consistent with rising demand for air cargo in the past as firms have turned to the speed of air freight to help recover some of the lost time out of their production processes. This certainly looks to have been a key factor behind the strong pick-up in air freight demand since mid-2016.

Africa tops the international growth chart again 
Despite slowing, African airlines still topped the international FTK growth chart in January for the 16th time in 17 months, with year-on-year growth of 12.9%. As we have noted before, African airlines’ freight volumes have been boosted by a strong upward trend in traffic between Africa and Asia. FTKs flown on this segment grew by 59% year-on-year in 2017, following an increase in the number of direct services between the two continents on the back of ongoing foreign investment flows into Africa from Asia.

Highlights of the January 2018 Air Freight Market Analysis

  • While Chinese New Year can distort annual comparisons at the start of each year, industry-wide freight tonne kilometres (FTKs) rose by a robust 8.0% year-on-year in January 2018.
  • Demand drivers remain consistent with solid year-on-year FTK growth in H1 2018. However, as we have noted before, the upward trend in seasonally adjusted (SA) demand has slowed since the middle of last year.
  • International FTK growth accelerated in annual terms in all regions in January except the Middle East and Africa.
  • Demand grew around 2x the pace of capacity in January, which resulted in a further annual rise in the load factor. Download the full document here. 

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