For the first eight months of 2015, IATA said worldwide air cargo traffic was up 2.6%, led by 2.9% growth in international traffic, while domestic traffic was up just 0.5%. In the first two months of the year, when labor strife at the US West Coast ports, and a massive automobile recall in the US drove shippers to shift goods from ocean to air, overall traffic was up 7.5%, but since then it has become clear that underlying growth in air freight traffic is fairly weak. Year-over-year growth was 1.6% in March, 3.3% in April, 2.1% in May, 1.2% in June, -0.6% in July, and, as mentioned above, 0.2% in August.
However, as IATA points out, even these low growth figures are misleading, because, despite the return to positive territory after the decline in July, “all is not well. Total volumes are down 2% compared to the end of 2014. And some of the key reasons for the earlier weakness – for example, downgraded growth expectations in emerging Asia, and the rebalancing the Chinese economy toward domestic consumption – are still there.”
On a more positive note, IATA added that world trade volumes have recently begun to pick up, if only slightly, but cautioned: “The industry will have to work hard to match the strong finish to 2014.” To which we would add that, while the industry can work hard on things like customer service, much of the demand side of the equation is in the hands of shippers and forwarders, or dependent on economic developments completely outside of the air freight industry’s control.
WorldACD also said August cargo volume (measured in chargeable weight carried) was up 0.9% y-o-y – not much different from IATA’s report of a 0.2% increase in traffic (measured in FTKs).
Get more air cargo insights at the 2015 Cargo Facts Symposium, Oct. 26-28 in Miami. Click here for details.