Dec 26, 2016: Global air freight tonne kilometres (FTKs) grew by 8.2 per cent year-on-year in October 2016 – the fastest pace since February 2015 when air freight received a boost from disruption at seaports on the west coast of the US. As was the case in September, European and Asia Pacific airlines accounted for the bulk of the annual increase in industry-wide FTKs, with growth of 13.4 per cent and 7.8 per cent year-on-year, respectively. Middle East and North American airlines made smaller positive contributions to year-on-year growth, while Latin American carriers saw freight volumes contract in annual terms for the eighth month in a row (albeit only by 0.1 per cent).

More generally, October’s data tie in with broader signs of a stronger-than-expected peak season for air freight in 2016. This may in part be explained by some one-off factors, including some potential mode shift to air freight this year following the collapse of the Hanjin shipping company in late August. Others have also suggested that weak market conditions earlier this year may have caused some complacency amongst companies ahead of this year’s peak season, and thereby led to more of a last-minute reliance on air freight.

The main freight lanes out of Asia are continuing to perform well. Having trended downwards over the past five years or so, traffic on the Europe to Asia route has risen at an annualised rate of more than 17 per cent over the past three months; volumes increased by 7.4 per cent year-on-year in September (the latest data available). International traffic within the region also grew by 8.3 per cent year-on-year in September 2016.

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