Airfreight throughput for the month inched up by just 0.8 percent year-over-year. Capacity increased by 2.1 percent, causing load factors to fall to 44.9 percent—their lowest level since the post-crisis recovery.
“As about 60 percent of global air cargo utilizes capacity in the belly of passenger aircraft, managing capacity at a time when growth in air travel is outpacing that of cargo is particularly challenging,” IATA said in a media statement.
Cargo expansion appears to have stalled as a result of a recent softening in growth in developing economies, including China, it added.
Business confidence, too, is flat globally and declining in some developing economies, making the chances of a significant upturn in the near future unlikely.
“It is getting harder to find optimistic signs for air cargo growth. The Middle East remains a bright spot, and the rate of decline in the Euro zone is easing. But this is offset by the weakening of expansion in Asia-Pacific,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO.
“It is now clear that the positive global upswing in air cargo at the end of 2012 was an illusion,” he continued. “Air cargo, along with many parts of the world economy, appears to be in suspended animation at the moment.”
Europe and particularly the Middle East were the standout year-on-year performers, but poor performance in Asia-Pacific and North America dragged growth down.
For Asia-Pacific carriers, volumes fell 0.5 percent in May compared to the same month in 2012, while capacity grew 0.3 percent, further depressing load factors. Asia-Pacific freight volumes have slipped 2.5 percent for the year to date.
North American carriers posted a 1.2 percent decline in demand for air cargo, and capacity grew by a mere 0.1 percent.