Global freight markets have begun 2016 on a positive note, with volumes rising in January at the fastest monthly pace in almost a year, new figures show.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said freight tonne kilometres (FTK) were up 2.7 per cent in January, compared with the prior corresponding period. It was the highest rate of freight expansion since April 2015.
However, freight markets continue to suffer from overcapacity, with available freight tonne kilometres (AFTK) rising seven per cent in the month. As a result, freight yields remain under pressure, with freight load factors dropping 1.8 percentage points.
IATA chief executive Tony Tyler said air cargo was going through a tough time.
“It is good news that volumes are growing, but yields and revenues are still under tremendous pressure,” Tyler said in a statement.
Middle East carriers led all regions in terms of freight growth, with FTKs up 8.8 per cent in January amid large-scale network and fleet expansion.
Meanwhile, European and North American airlines reported a 2.5 per cent increase in FTKs. IATA said the North American freight market has fallen away after the 2015 spike in volumes due to the ports strike on the US west coast.
In Europe, IATA said the freight market was expected to struggle in the period ahead.
“Growth may have been flattered by the volatility and weakness seen a year ago,” IATA said of Europe.
“The growth trend for volumes looks weak for the months ahead, so there is a strong possibility that Europe could slip back into negative growth.”
The Asia Pacific freight market, which accounted for about 39 per cent of all air freight, grew by 1.3 per cent in January. The region reported the highest freight load factor at 49.8 per cent, despite the 2.3 percentage point decline in January.
“Emerging Asia trade contracted in the second half of 2015 and in general trade to and from Asia-Pacific is weak,” IATA said.
Africa and Latin American carriers suffered a fall in FTKs in January.