Home » Aviation, Breaking News » Int’l air cargo volumes reflect impact of trade tensions on exports—ACI

International air freight continued to decline in July as trade squabbles appear to be adversely affecting exports, according to data analyzed by Airports Council International (ACI) World.

“Global air freight trends seemed to be tracking the evolving trade context around the United States in July, with international freight continuing its slowdown to 3.9% growth year-to-date, from 4.4% in June,” said ACI.

At the same time, it is domestic freight that performed relatively well in the month, gaining 7% on a year-over-year basis and boosting its year-to-date figure to 5.8%.

“This partially balanced the slow-down in international trade, but in the long-run could not fully offset the economic impacts of a declining international freight market, which represents roughly twice the size of the domestic segment,” said ACI.

Total freight volumes in July grew by 3.2% compared to June’s 2.3%. Year-to-date growth for the overall global industry reached 4.5% during the period, from 4.8% at the end of the second quarter of this year.

Of the three major regional markets, North America’s total freight volumes fared the best in July (4.1%), followed by Europe (2.9%) and Asia-Pacific (2.5%). Year-to-date figures for all three markets have been slowly but steadily decreasing since Q1. North America stood at 5.4% at the end of the period, with Asia-Pacific reaching 4.1% and Europe 3.5%.

In particular, “Asia-Pacific remained negatively affected by the global trade context, with a number of major markets posting figures approaching zero percent growth in July on a year-over-year basis,” said ACI.

As for North America, after a sharp drop to 1.7% growth in June, the region posted a 4.1% increase in July. As could be expected given the current state of international trade relations, the entire upswing was driven by growth in domestic freight, which increased by 7.7% during the month year-over-year. International freight, on the other hand, declined by 1%.

Turkey’s recovering market (+12.9%) and Belgium’s burgeoning cargo industry (+14.6%) remained the main drivers of Europe’s growth in July, while other major markets sustained subdued or even negative growth year-to-date.

Latin America performed relatively well in July, increasing 4.6% year-over-year, only behind Africa for the period. As with the latter, the air freight market seems on track to post substantial gains in 2018, with year-to-date reaching 9.7%.

Africa’s freight figures slowed down in July, after benefitting from a surge of close to 18% in June. The region posted 6.2% growth during the period, with year-to-date figures remaining above double-digits at 11.6%.

In line with its passenger traffic, the Middle East’s freight market rebounded in July, after posting a decline of 1.2% in June. Year-over-year growth reached 3.2%, keeping the region’s year-to-date figure above the zero percent mark, at 0.7%. It had reached 0.2% in June. The region’s outlook remained uncertain by the end of July.

Passenger traffic

Meanwhile, global passenger traffic increased more slowly in July, up 5.4% year-on-year. Year-to-date, the industry’s passenger market expanded 6.4% during the period, down from 6.6% in June, following a slight moderation trend which started at the end of the first quarter of the year.

International passenger traffic decelerated in the month, reaching 5.8% year-on-year while domestic passenger traffic reached 5.1%. Year-to-date growth figures stood at 7% for international passenger traffic and 5.8% for domestic by July’s end, said the report.

“The global aviation industry achieved particularly strong results in 2017. Although 2018 figures up to July remain robust, achieving similar results may prove difficult this year,” said Angela Gittens, director general of ACI World. “Furthermore, it is clear that trade tensions around the world are starting to take their toll on global exports.”

She added that international passenger traffic, which had been benefitting from a significant upsurge since the start of the year, slowed down in July. “This brought the segment’s growth rate closer to the results posted by the domestic market.”

The major markets of Asia-Pacific, Europe, and North America all posted comparable figures for total passenger traffic during the period, increasing by 5.9%, 5.1%, and 5%, respectively. Despite the close results for July, Asia-Pacific maintained its lead against the two other regions on a year-to-date basis, reaching 8.2%, against 6.4% for Europe and 5.2% for North America.

Photo: Alejandro Erickson

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