'Clear downturn' in Middle East air cargo volumes says IATA

International Air Transport Association says weakening freight volumes in US and Asia Pacific markets driving softer performance
Image illustrative only.
Image illustrative only.


Air cargo volumes carried by airlines in the Middle East increased by 1.3 percent in March compared to the same month last year, according to new figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

IATA said capacity in the region increased by 3.8 percent, adding that it has seen a clear downward trend in seasonally-adjusted international air cargo demand with weakening air freight volumes to/from North America and to/from Asia Pacific contributing to the softer performance.   

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Globally, IATA said air freight demand increased 0.1 percent in March compared to the same period in 2018.

While this is a significant improvement on the 4.9 percent contraction in February, in seasonally adjusted terms, demand is still down 1.5 percent over the past year, it added.

Freight capacity rose by 3.1 percent year-on-year in March. Capacity growth has now outstripped demand growth for 11 out of the last 12 months.

IATA said demand for air cargo continues to face significant headwinds as global trade volumes have fallen by 1 percent over the past year and economic activity and consumer confidence continue to weaken.

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Industry confidence regarding the outlook, however remains relatively upbeat with only 13 percent of respondents from IATA’s Business Confidence Survey expecting to see a decrease in freight volumes in 2019 compared to 2018.

“Year-on-year demand for air freight edged back into positive territory in March with 0.1 percent growth. After four consecutive months of contraction, this is an encouraging development. But the headwinds from weakening global trade, growing trade tensions and shrinking order books have not gone away,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA's director general and CEO.

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