February sees double-digit air freight growth, but is it a blip?

Air cargo

IATA has stated that global international air freight tonne kilometres (FTKs) expanded by 12.6% year-on-year in February when adjusting for the effect of the leap year in 2016. On the same basis, FTKs overall were up by around 12%, almost four times the five-year average rate.

Asia Pacific and European airlines accounted for most of the overall change in FTKs (around 75%). Latin American carriers detracted from FTK growth for the 25th time in 27 months. In terms of international FTKs, Asia Pacific saw leap year adjusted growth of over 15%.

IATA stated: “The timing of Chinese New Year can complicate year-on-year comparisons at this time of year, but annual FTK growth clearly made a strong start to 2017. Global FTKs were 7.2% higher in year-on-year terms in January and February combined, which we estimate is consistent with 9.0% adjusting for the leap year.”

However, IATA also expressed caution. It was noted that the present strength in FTK growth is partly flattered by the combination of the weak start and the strong finish to 2016. In addition, despite data disruption at this time of year (mainly thanks to Chinese New Year) making accurate assessments particularly difficult, falling seasonally adjusted month-on-month FTK levels in recent months are a warning that the market may not be as buoyant as the year-on-year numbers suggest.

Source: IATA