The global air cargo market showed a 2.0 per cent drop in volumes measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTKs) compared to the same period last year, according the International Air Transport Association.
However, freight capacity (measured in available freight tonne kilometres or AFTKs) rose by 6.9 per cent, putting increased pressure on already struggling yields.
Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO, said: “It is shaping up to be another tough year for air cargo. February 2016 world trade volumes were only 0.4 per cent higher than at the end of 2014. And the expectations of purchasing managers gives little optimism for an early uptick. The combination of fierce competition, capacity increases and stagnant demand makes this a very difficult environment in which to generate profits.”
The weak results reflect subdued growth in world trade. Last the market showed a particularly strong start as air freight volumes were boosted by the effects of the US West Coast seaports strike.
The most significant fall in demand was reported by carriers in Asia-Pacific and North America. Combined they account for around 60 per cent of global freight traffic and reported declines of 5.2 per cent, and 1.8 per cent, respectively.
European airlines saw demand for air cargo grow by a modest 1.3 per cent in March 2016, compared to the same period in 2015, while capacity increased by 7.9 per cent. Weak cargo demand is a continuing story for European carriers for whom cargo volumes stand at just 1 per cent above early 2008 levels.