Geneva: The latest data for global air freight markets released by International Air Transport Association (IATA) shows that demand measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTKs) decreased by 1.1 per cent in November 2019 compared to the same period in 2018.
This marks the 13th consecutive month of year-on-year declines in freight volumes.
Despite the decline in demand, November's performance was the best in eight months with the slowest year-on-year rate of contraction recorded since March 2019. In part, November's outcome reflects the growing importance of large e-commerce events such as Singles Day in Asia and Black Friday.
While international e-commerce continues to grow, overall air cargo demand continues to face headwinds from the effects of the trade war between the United States and China, the deterioration in world trade and a broad-based slowing in global economic growth.
"Demand for air cargo in November was down 1.1 per cent compared to the previous year," said IATA's Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac.
"That's better than the 3.5 per cent decline posted in October. But it is a big disappointment considering that the fourth quarter is usually air cargo's peak season. Looking forward, signs of a thawing in US-China trade tensions are good news. But trading conditions at present remain very challenging," he said.
Freight capacity measured in available freight tonne kilometres (AFTKs) rose by 2.9 per cent year-on-year in November 2019. Capacity growth has now outstripped demand growth for 19 consecutive months.
Airlines in Asia Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East suffered sharp declines in year-on-year growth in total air freight volumes in November 2019 while North American carriers experienced a more moderate decline.
Europe and Africa were the only regions to record growth in air freight demand compared to November 2018.
Asia Pacific airlines saw demand for air freight contract by 3.7 per cent in November 2019 compared to the year-earlier period. This was the sharpest drop in freight demand of any region for the month.
Capacity increased by 1.8 per cent. The US-China trade war has significantly affected the region with demand on the large Asia-North America market down 6.5 per cent year-on-year in October (latest available data).
However, the thawing of US-China trade relations and robust economic growth in key regional economies are positive developments.