But the association said the 5 percent increase in January 2013 was from an exceptionally low base, with the Chinese New Year occurring in February this year against January last year.
Against December last year, airfreight volumes in January were 0.9 percent lower.
Year-on-year, capacity expanded by 2.1 percent and the global load factor stood at 41.9 percent.
“The airfreight business is showing some encouraging signs. But it’s too early to be overly optimistic,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO. “While the decline has stopped, overall volumes are still below the levels of 2010 and 2011. Load factors are low. And the global economy is fragile.”
Tyler forecast continued modest demand, with growth of 1.4 percent expected for this year, adding that with weak load factors, “yields are going to continue to be under severe downward pressure.”
Asia-Pacific carriers, which represent some 39.2 percent of global air cargo, saw year-on-year demand growth of 7.1 percent while capacity was down 0.4 percent. Adjusting for the effect of the Chinese New Year, the region’s carriers saw demand growth of about 3 percent.
North American airlines saw a 0.6 percent growth compared to January 2012, while capacity was trimmed by 1 percent. European airlines reported demand growth of 1.2 percent year-on-year, which was half of the 2.4 percent growth in capacity.
Middle Eastern airlines continued to be the fastest-growing, reporting a demand increase of 16.3 percent over January 2012.
Latin American airlines were the only regional grouping to report a fall in demand, with a 1.6 percent decline on the previous year against a 10.2 percent increase in capacity.
African airlines reported a demand increase of 3.7 percent while capacity expanded by 13.9 percent.