Air cargo grew by 1.4 per cent in terms of freight tonne kilometres (FTKs) last year with growth rates increasing towards the end of the year, according to the International Air Transport Association.
World trade continues to expand more rapidly than demand for air cargo, said Tony Tyler, IATAs director general and CEO.
Trade itself is suffering from increasing protectionist measures by governments. And the relative good fortunes of passenger markets compared to cargo make it difficult for airlines to match capacity to demand.
Capacity grew faster than demand at 2.6 per cent and load factors were weak at 45.3 per cent.
European airlines reported cargo growth of 2.9 per cent in December and 1.8 per cent for the whole of 2013, the best volume performance of the traditional big three aviation regions.
Manufacturing indicators suggest that the fourth quarter of 2013 was the strongest quarter for two-and-a-half years, and the outlook, particularly in Germany, is improving.
Asia-Pacific carriers saw freight volumes fall 0.3 per cent in December, and declined 1.0 per cent for 2013 as a whole, compared to 2012. The economic performance of the region was patchy, as was growth in trade volumes, although these have picked up in recent weeks. Despite shrinking demand, capacity grew by 0.8 per cent in 2013.
North American carriers air freight volumes contracted 0.5 per cent in December and fell by 0.4 per cent for the whole of 2013, compared to 2012. Indicators of business activity in North America have shown some improvement in recent months, but remain below the levels seen at the start of 2013.
The dynamics in which the air cargo industry operates are changing, but air cargos basic value proposition remains the same. Customers still need speed, quality, reliability and efficiency. And we need to get better at delivering it through improved technology and modern processes. This will be a year of change for air cargo. A key measure of success will be in passing the tipping point on e-air waybill implementation. That will lay the foundation for further improvements for a modern paperless air cargo industry that can only be achieved by aligning all stakeholdersincluding governmentsin a common vision, said Tyler.