The International Air Transport Association released its air freight market analysis for January 2016, showing a 2.7% year-over-year increase in worldwide cargo traffic (in freight tonne kilometers flown), slightly better than we had anticipated based on the results available from individual carriers, handlers and airports.
IATA said that international cargo traffic, which accounts for 87% of total traffic, was up 2.1%. IATA did not provide data for domestic traffic, but it is clear that it must have risen substantially to push total traffic up to a 2.7% gain. Reading between the lines in the chart above, we expect that much of the boost in domestic traffic came from carriers in the Asia Pacific region.
While IATA called January “a reasonably solid start of the year for the freight side of the business,” it did echo our caveat about the need to wait until February results are in, saying “any analysis of the industry at this time of the year can be complicated by shifts in timing of Chinese New Year.”
Looking ahead past the combined January/February period, IATA said, “the absence of any particularly strong demand tailwinds suggests that air freight volumes are set for another year of just modest growth in 2016 as a whole. Indeed, the broader backdrop remains one where global trade growth is weak by historical standards, continuing to grow broadly in line with global GDP (rather than around twice the pace that used to be considered ‘normal.’) Admittedly, world trade volumes bounced back strongly in the second half of 2015 from the firm downward trend seen earlier in the year. Moreover, given the extent of the declines seen in H1 2015, annual trade growth is likely to pick up sharply.”
We note that Netherlands-based WorldACD has also published its summary of January cargo trends, saying that cargo volume (measured in chargeable weight) was almost flat (up just 0.3%) with January 2015. This is a bit lower than we were expecting, but, as we point out above, the real picture won’t be clear until February results are in.
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