Okay, the first half was great. Now what?

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data showing that worldwide cargo traffic flown by its member airlines was up 11.0% y-o-y in June, and up 10.4% in the first half of 2017, compared to 1H16.

As IATA points out, this is the strongest first-half growth in air freight demand “since the rebound from the global financial crisis in 2010.” However, we would add two caveats: First, the falloff in air freight demand during the financial crisis was incredibly steep, so, while the percentage increase during the rebound was high, it really only represented a return to pre-crisis levels, rather than a true gain. This makes the 1H17 gain even more impressive. On the other hand, air freight demand in the first half of 2016 was flat with 1H15, which makes for a fairly soft comparison this year. Those two caveats aside, we do agree that 2017 has, so far at least, been the best year for the air freight industry in a very long time.

But what about the rest of the year? IATA says that “industry drivers continue to indicate that the best of the cyclical growth upturn may now have passed.” So is demand growth going to fall? Maybe not, because IATA also says there are signs of growing order books for global manufacturers. “The new export orders component of the global purchasing managers’ index (PMI) remains close to a six-year high and crucially above the notional 50-mark that indicates rising orders.”

IATA concludes by saying that it expects year-over-year demand growth in third quarter to be about 8%. That is, down slightly from the 10.4% in the first half, but still very strong by historical standards.

Join us at the Cargo Facts Symposium in Miami, 2 – 4 October, to see how the third quarter played out, and hear thoughts about the future from senior executives from all branches of the air freight industry. To register, or for more information, go to CargoFactsSymposium.com.

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