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May 2018 IATA Air Freight Market Analysis
Air freight volumes look to have resumed a modest uptrend

Annual FTK growth falls below its 5-year average…
Year-on-year growth in industry-wide FTKs slowed to 4.2% in May, from 5.2% in April. In a clear sign of the recent moderation in the upward demand trend, May was just the second month in two years in which annual FTK growth has lagged behind its five-year average pace (currently 5.1%).

…although volumes have picked up in SA terms

Having said that, seasonally adjusted (SA) FTKs picked up in month-on-month terms for the second consecutive month in May. (Note that the slowdown in the year-on-year growth rate in May is due to the comparison with an even larger month-on-month increase this time last year.) SA FTKs are now broadly in line with where they would have been had the moderate upward trend in late-2017 been sustained. We will monitor closely as to whether this marks the start of a new upward trend in demand. However, as we have noted before, the key point is that demand momentum is currently much weaker than it was a year ago. Indeed, FTKs have risen at an annualized rate of around 4% over the past six months or so – around one-third as fast as the pace seen during mid-2017.

African freight volumes continue downward trend 
Having surged by 25% in 2017 as a whole, international FTKs flown by African airlines fell in annual terms in May for just the second time in 22 months. SA FTKs have now trended downwards at an annualized pace of 15% over the past six months, which mainly reflects a softening in demand on the markets to/from Asia and the Middle East.

Highlights of the May 2018 Air Freight Market Analysis

  • Annual growth in industry-wide freight tonne kilometres (FTKs) slowed to 4.2% in May, from 5.2% in April,although the upward trend in freight demand has recovered in recent months from a weak start to the year.
  • The best of the upturn in air freight demand is well behind us, and the underlying world trade backdrop looks to be weakening. However, after a very strong 2017, we still expect FTKs to increase by around 4% in 2018.
  • Annual growth in freight capacity exceeded that of demand in May once again, driving a decline in the load factor. Download the full document here. 

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