Global air cargo markets see uptick in demand

February’s air cargo performance has sustained the weak recovery that began in the fourth quarter of 2012

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released February data showing that air cargo maintained the modest improvement in demand that began in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Seasonally adjusted cargo volumes are 2.5% above the October 2012 low point. Comparisons with February 2012 performance however show a 6.2% decline. This is severely skewed as a result of two factors (1) February 2012 has an extra day owing to the Leap Year and (2) Chinese New Year (which is accompanied by many factory closings in Asia) occurred in January 2012 and in February 2013. After adjusting for these abnormalities, however, air cargo was actually up 2% in February compared to the previous year.

“February’s air cargo performance has sustained the weak recovery that began in the fourth quarter of 2012. This is welcome news after two consecutive years of contraction, said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO. “It is even better news that this growth is expected to pick up moderately as the year progresses. But improvements cannot be taken for granted.”

Tyler also noted that events in Cyprus have shippers that the Eurozone crisis is far from over.

“Any resulting loss of business confidence could shift the outlook for the worse,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

Air cargo volumes declined by 0.6% in 2011 and a further 1.5% in 2012. Markets stabilized and began a weak recovery trend in the last quarter of 2012,” he said.

Charles “Chuck” Clowdis, managing director of transportation advisory services for IHS Global Insight, told LM earlier this year that “unless there is a discernible economic recovery,” air cargo rates would remain flat. “Robust consumer spending would change that,” he added.

IATA data suggests that might just be the case, with the word “robust” again invoked.

North American freight demand declined 3.1% and capacity was down 4.2%. There was a strong month-on-month increase of 1.6%, “which particularly reflects robust domestic demand.”


About the Author

Patrick Burnson
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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