Middle Eastern airlines posted the fastest-growing air freight demand in January globally , reporting an increase of 16.3 per cent over the same month in 2012, according to figures and analysis released by the International Air Transport Association (Iata ).
The region’s airlines continue to benefit from route and capacity expansion into rapidly growing economies in West Africa and Asia, added the report, indicating that the increase in demand was ahead of a 12.4 per cent capacity expansion.African airlines reported a demand increase of 3.7 per cent while capacity expanded by 13.9 per cent. The region’s carriers benefitted from strong economic growth, particularly in West Africa, the Iata report said.The global air freight  demand statistics for January 2013 showing a stabilization of air freight markets on the back of encouraging growth towards the end of 2012. Compared to the previous year, demand for air freight was apparently very strong, with a rise of 5 per cent.However the rise was from an exceptionally low base, caused by the timing of Chinese New Year, which occurred in February this year, skewing year-on-year comparisons as many Asian factories close and last year the holiday period occurred in January, the report said.Compared to the level of Freight Tonne Kilometers (FTK) in December, air freight volumes in January were 0.9 per cent lower. Year-on-year, capacity expanded by 2.1 per cent and the global load factor stood at 41.9 per cent.“The air freight business is showing some encouraging signs. But it’s too early to be overly optimistic,” said Tony Tyler, Iata’s director general and CEO.“While the decline has stopped, overall volumes are still below the levels of 2010 and 2011. Load factors are low. And the global economy is fragile. Our forecast remains for modest demand growth of 1.4 per cent. But with weak load factors, yields are going to continue to be under severe downward pressure,” he added.Asia-Pacific carriers, which represent some 39.2 per cent of global air cargo, saw year-on-year demand growth of 7.1 per cent while capacity was down 0.4 per cent. Adjusting for the effect of Chinese New Year, it is estimated that the region’s carriers saw demand growth of about 3.0 per cent.North American airlines saw a modest 0.6 per cent growth compared to January 2012, while capacity was trimmed by 1.0 per cent, while European airlines reported demand growth of 1.2 per cent year-on-year, which was half the 2.4 per cent growth in capacity.Persistent economic weakness in the Eurozone, which is a major market for air freighted consumer goods, is dampening global world trade growth, and will limit the growth  in air freight volumes in 2013, the report said.Latin American airlines were the only regional grouping to report a fall in demand, with a 1.6 per cent decline on the previous year.Priorities for 2013:On March 12 the world’s air cargo leaders will gather in Doha, Qatar for the World Cargo Symposium, Tyler highlighted.“The challenge is sustainable business growth. Headwinds presented by the fragile global economic  situation are strong. But if governments and all the players of the value chain are aligned, there is much that can be done to improve the competitiveness of the global air cargo industry. Infrastructure, technology, environment, security and industry processes are among the symposium’s topics,” said Tyler.“Air cargo is important to the global economy and everyday life. By value, nearly a third of goods traded internationally are shipped by air. Jobs and economic opportunities are created by connecting goods to markets.“And lives are enriched by the global trade of products and services which is made possible by air connectivity. Supporting the sector’s success is in everybody’s interest,” he concluded.