Global air freight demand sees double digit growth in July

September 6, 2017: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for global air freight markets showing that demand, measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs), increased by 11.4 percent in July 2017 compared to the same period a year ago. This was the fourth time in five months that double-digit annual growth was recorded. July’s year-on-year increase in demand is nearly four times higher than the ten year average growth rate of 3.1 percent. Freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometers (AFTKs), grew by 3.7 percent year-on-year in July 2017. Demand growth continues to significantly outstrip capacity growth, which is positive for airline yields and the industry’s financial performance.

Asia-Pacific airlines’ freight volumes grew 11 percent in July 2017 compared to the same period a year earlier and capacity increased by 6.3 percent. Demand growth was robust on all the major routes to, from and within the region. Seasonally-adjusted international freight volumes fell slightly in July but remain more than 3 percent above the volumes reached following the 2010 post-global financial crisis bounce-back.

IATA in a press release said that the robust growth in air cargo demand is consistent with an uptick in global trade, rising export orders and upbeat business confidence indicators. There are, however, signs that demand growth for air freight may be nearing a peak. Seasonally-adjusted air freight volumes were flat in June and fell in July; and the global inventory-to-sales ratio has stabilized. Air cargo often sees a boost in demand at the beginning of an economic upturn as companies look to restock inventories quickly. This tapers as inventories are adjusted to new demand levels.

“July was a strong month for air cargo with double-digit growth. And for the third consecutive month demand for air freight grew at a faster pace than demand for air travel. While the outlook for the rest of the year remains positive, there are signs that the cyclical growth period may be nearing a peak,” said Alexandre de Juniac, director general and CEO, IATA.

July 2017 (% year-on-year) World share1 FTK AFTK FLF (%-pt)2 FLF (level)3
Total Market 100.0% 11.4% 3.7% 3.0% 43.7%
Africa 1.6% 33.7% 4.5% 4.9% 22.5%
Asia Pacific 37.4% 11.0% 6.3% 2.3% 55.0%
Europe 23.5% 12.1% 5.5% 2.6% 44.2%
Latin America 2.8% 5.8% 4.7% 0.3% 30.6%
Middle East 13.9% 9.3% -0.4% 3.9% 43.6%
North America 20.7% 11.9% 1.1% 3.4% 34.9%