Is the air freight market finally picking up?

Air freight markets slumped sharply in the first half of 2011, bottoming out towards the end of the year. However, various distortions and month-to-month volatility have continued to mark performance since the beginning of 2012.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), things may finally be taking a turn for the better.

Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO, said after viewing the latest figures that, amid the many distortions that have marked the first four months of the year, it is possible to identify the start of a growth trend in cargo for some parts of the world.

"But economic uncertainty in Europe makes it very difficult to be optimistic in the near to medium-term," he warned.

Asia-Pacific carriers saw a 7.3% decline in demand in April, well ahead of capacity cuts of 4.1% and reflecting weakening exports from China.

Meanwhile, European airlines saw a 4.9% fall in cargo traffic compared to the year before, despite having cut capacity by 0.2%, and North American carriers showed a 6.4% drop in demand with a 2.9% cut in capacity.

Latin American carriers recorded a 3.6% fall in demand, even though capacity expanded by 8.8% compared to April 2011. Middle Eastern carriers were the bright spot in cargo with a 14.5% increase in demand, and even this was behind a 15.1% increase in capacity.

African carriers showed a 6.1% increase in demand, behind a 9% increase in capacity.

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