Global freight markets posted modest growth in March, with declines in European and Latin American markets offset by encouraging signs in the Asia Pacific and the Middle East.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said cargo volumes, measured by freight tonne kilometres, (FTK) rose 1.6 per cent in March, compared with the prior corresponding period.
IATA said the global freight market grew 5.3 per cent over the first three months of 2015, slightly above the association’s most recent forecast of a 4.5 per cent increase.
However, IATA cautioned that the February figures, which showed a double-digit increase in the month, were impacted by the timing of the Lunar New Year and labour disputes as some US West Coast seaports.
Moreover, further acceleration in the current trend was unlikely for the time being, given there was little change in business confidence in March compared with January.
“The air cargo industry is on a solid but unspectacular growth trend. And there is little evidence today that would point towards an acceleration as the year goes on,” IATA director general and chief executive Tony Tyler said in a statement on Tuesday.
IATA said Middle East carriers grew FTKs 10.6 per cent in March due to network and capacity expansion, as well as increasing trade among economies in the region. Asia Pacific airlines also had a good month, with FTKs up two per cent in March, while FTKs were up 2.4 per cent in Africa.
On the negative side, European airlines posted a 2.4 per cent decline in freight, with the economies in the region remaining weakened because of sanctions on Russia, IATA said. And Latin America also had a week month with FTKs down 6.4 per cent.
“The key economies of Brazil and Argentina continue to struggle, and a general increase in regional trade activity is yet to carry over into stronger air freight demand, IATA said of the Latin America air cargo market.
IATA, which represents the world’s airlines, has about 250 carriers as members covering about 84 per cent of global air traffic.