Home » Customs & Trade » IATA: International air cargo demand slips 21.7% in April

INTERNATIONAL air traffic continues to plummet due to the ongoing global financial crisis with cargo as the biggest loser in April, according to a report from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Cargo demand in April decline 21.7% while passenger demand slid 3.1% compared to the same figures posted a year earlier.

“We are not out of the woods yet. The demand improvements that we saw in April are welcome. But the 3.1% decline in passenger demand still outstripped the 2.5% cutback in capacity. There is no improvement in revenues as yields continue to fall. And freight remains at shockingly low levels.

“The worst may be over. However, we have not yet seen any signs that recovery is imminent,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s director general and chief executive officer.

“The sideways progression in cargo demand may indicate that we have seen the worst of the economic downturn. Business confidence is improving, but inventories remain high. Until inventories adjust to more normal levels, air freight volumes will likely continue to bounce along the bottom,” Bisignani explained.

Based on the report, carriers in all regions showed double-digit declines with Middle Eastern carriers the strongest performers at -11.1%. European, North American, Asia-Pacific and African carriers had similar performance of -23.3%, -22.4%, -22.3% and -18.8%, respectively. Latin American carriers were the worst performers at -24.2%.

Passenger load factors improved to 74.4% in April compared to 72.1% in March. However, according to IATA, this is slightly distorted by high volume holiday travel. Forward schedules show a return to previous-year capacity levels by end of the third quarter. Without a corresponding sharp improvement in demand, load factors are likely to decline rather than improve.

Asia-Pacific carriers continued to see the most significant demand deterioration. Their 8.6% fall outstripped capacity adjustments of -7.4%.

An acceleration of fare discounting saw demand increase on North Atlantic routes. North American carriers, which experienced a 13.4% drop in demand in March, saw this reduced to -4.2% in April. The capacity adjustment of -4% much more closely matched the fall in demand than in March when there was a 7.7 gap of points.

For European carriers, the 11.6% decline in passenger demand reported for March improved to -2.7% in April, closely matching the capacity adjustment of -2.6%.

Middle Eastern carriers saw demand growth in April of 11.2% against a capacity expansion of 12.3%.

Latin American carriers saw demand expand 7.5%, outstripping a capacity increase of 6%. Nonetheless, Latin American carriers recorded the weakest load factor, 71.2%.

Africa’s carriers experienced a 7.1% fall in demand, outpacing the capacity cut of 5%.

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