World air cargo up 4.5pc in 2014, but yields fall for a third year. - Transport and Logistics Information Portal

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World air cargo up 4.5pc in 2014, but yields fall for a third year.


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released full-year air cargo data for 2014 showing a 4.5 per cent year-on-year demand growth in freight tonne kilometres (FTKs).

"Despite growth, yields declined for a third straight year with no prospect of improvement. Cargo revenues remained unchanged at US$62 billion, $5 billion below their 2011 peak," said IATA director general Tony Tyler, former CEO of Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways.

Air cargo market expansion gathered momentum as 2014 progressed with growth in December accelerating to 4.9 per cent year on year. Most growth was in Asia-Pacific, up 46 per cent in FTKs, and the Middle East, up 29 per cent.

Growth was recorded in all other regions, but was particularly weak in Latin America.

"After several years of stagnation, the air cargo business is growing again. This is largely being driven by the uptick in world trade over the second half of 2014," said Mr Tyler.

"Recent concerns over the health of the global economy and a corresponding fall in business confidence have not yet impacted air cargo. But it is a downside risk that will need to be watched carefully as we move through 2015," he said.

Asia-Pacific carriers grew 5.9 per cent in December compared to December 2013, and 5.4 per cent for 2014 as a whole. Volumes have benefitted from increasing import demand in addition to continuing manufacturing strength. Japanese and Chinese markets were particularly important contributors.

Overall in 2014, capacity expanded 5.7 per cent leading to a slight fall in load factor to 55.4 per cent, although this remains the strongest load factor of any region.

North American airlines reported demand growth of 2.8 per cent in December and 2.4 per cent for 2014 as a whole. After a slow, weather-affected start to the year, growth accelerated, driven by import and export demand.

Carriers in the region cut back capacity in 2014 by 0.5 per cent, helping to underpin the load factor (35.3 per cent).

European airlines saw FTKs expand 2.3 per cent in December, and by two per cent in 2014 overall. The Eurozone remains weak and close to recession, with the effects of Russian sanctions also having an impact. Load factors also fell in 2014 as capacity expanded three per cent.

Middle Eastern carriers enjoyed the strongest growth of any region, expanding 11.3 per cent in December and 11 per cent for the year as a whole. Airlines in the region have extended their networks and grown capacity by 11.1 per cent to make the Middle East a hub for freight traffic.

In fact, they have been responsible for more than 37 per cent of the total increase in global freight capacity in 2014.

Latin American airlines reported FTKs falling 4.5 per cent in December. This was the only region to report a decline. The picture for 2014 as a whole was growth of 0.1 per cent. Latin American volumes have been affected by economic slowdown across the region, particularly in Brazil and Argentina. Capacity grew by 0.3 per cent in 2014.

African carriers expanded FTKs by 12.2 per cent in December and 6.7 per cent for the year as a whole. Although major economies Nigeria and South Africa underperformed during parts of 2014, regional trade activity held-up, supporting demand for air transport of goods. Capacity rose just 0.9 per cent for the year as a whole, helping to strengthen the load factor.

"To move forward, the industry is focusing on providing a stronger value proposition. That's what is driving efforts to cut shipping time, ensuring quality handling of temperature-sensitive goods and improving transparency," he said.

This focus on value is delivering change. For example, in 2014 electronic air waybill penetration reached 22 per cent and airlines are targeting 45 per cent penetration by the end of 2015.

An initiative to encourage further industry innovations will take centre stage at the World Cargo Symposium in Shanghai on March 10-12 with the launch of the Air Cargo Innovation Awards.

"If you have a stake in air cargo, the World Cargo Symposium is the place to be in March as we lay the foundations to energize the sector, recapture market share and grow revenues," Mr Tyler said. 

Source: Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News