The year 2013 will not be a banner year for profitability for the air cargo industry, but it should be an improvement on 2012, which saw growth contract further for a second straight year, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said.
International airfreight demand fell a further 1.5 percent in 2012 after a 0.6 percent decline in 2011, latest figures from the IATA showed. Freight capacity grew just 0.2 percent over the year, and the freight load factor was 45.2 percent.
“The industry suffered a one-two punch,” noted Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO. “World trade declined sharply. And the goods that were traded shifted towards bulk commodities more suited for sea shipping.”
The one “outstanding bright spot” last year was the development of new trade lanes and trade links between Asia and Africa, which benefited African and Middle Eastern carriers. Freight demand in Africa grew 7.1 percent from a decline of 2.1 percent in 2011, while the Middle East air cargo market expanded by 14.7 percent, from 8.2 percent the previous year.
In other areas, the Asia-Pacific region saw a 5.5 percent decline in air cargo traffic as the world’s major manufacturing center suffered from the slowdown in Western demand.
European, North American, and Latin American airlines also saw falls in demand, by 2.9 percent, 0.5 percent, and 1.2 percent, respectively.
IATA projects a 1.4 percent growth in cargo demand this year. That will help improve profitability from US$6.7 billion in 2012 to $8.4 billion in 2013.
“We are entering 2013 with some guarded optimism. Business confidence is up. The Eurozone situation is more stable than it was a year ago and the US avoided the fiscal cliff,” said Tyler.
But significant headwinds remain. “There is no end in sight for high fuel prices and GDP growth is projected at just 2.3%. But improved business confidence should help cargo markets to recover the lost ground from 2012,” he added.
Photo: Peter Kaminski