What do we know about January air freight traffic?

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported year-over-year growth in air freight traffic of 5.0% in January, with international traffic up 4.5% and domestic traffic up 7.5%. This sounds like a solid gain after well over a year of disappointing results, but what does it really tell us? In our view, not much, because the timing of the Lunar New Year holiday in Asia robs much of the meaning from the IATA figures.

The holiday fell in January in 2012, pushing a considerable amount of freight into February, whereas this year the holiday fell in February, causing shippers to move extra traffic in January. IATA says it believes that real y-o-y growth in January (i.e. adjusting for the timing of the holiday) was 2.5%.

We will have a clearer picture once the February results are in (the first reports are just starting to trickle in), but one thing that is clear from the January data is that carriers from the Middle East are continuing to grab market share – reporting a 16.3% y-o-y gain in their January freight traffic. Carriers from the Asia-Pacific region also did reasonably well, even taking into account the impact of the timing of the Lunar New Year holiday. While their real increase in traffic will obviously be less than the reported gain of 7.1%, IATA points out that economic growth in China over the last quarter of 2012, and increased demand for South Korean and Taiwanese exports, bode well for continued real growth in air freight traffic for the region’s carriers..

To learn more about predicted demand for air freight in 2013 join us at the second annual Cargo Facts Asia event in Hong Kong April 16 – 17. For more information, or to register, visit www.cargofactsasia.com.

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