The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for global air freight markets showing that demand, measured in freight ton kilometers (FTKs), rose 6.8% in November 2016 year over year. This was a slight slowdown from the 8.4% annual growth recorded in October 2016 - which was a 20-month high - but was still more than 2.5 times the average annual monthly growth rate of 2.6% over the past decade.

Growth in freight capacity, measured in available freight ton kilometers (AFTKs), slowed to 4.4% November 2016.

The uptick in freight growth coincides with an increase in the shipment of silicon materials typically used in high-value consumer electronics shipped by air, and an apparent turnaround in new export orders. A modal shift to air cargo following the collapse of the Hanjin Shipping Company in August may have also contributed, IATA reported.  

Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, stated: “Air cargo enjoyed a strong peak season in November. And there are encouraging signs that this growth will continue into 2017, particularly with the shipment of high-value consumer electronics and their component parts. But, the trend in world trade is still stagnant. So it remains critically important for the air cargo industry to continue to improve its value offering by implementing modern customer-centric processes.”

WorldACD, an air cargo market research company, reported that the usual air cargo peak season at the end of the year is shaping up as one of the better ones in a long time.  The USD-yield has gone up with a much larger percentage than in previous years, whilst November 2016 showed acceleration in year-over-year (YoY) volume growth for the fourth month in a row.

The organization stated that airlines in all regions except Latin America reported an increase in year-over-year demand in November 2016.

Asia-Pacific airlines saw demand in freight volumes grow 6.1% in November 2016 and capacity grew by 4.0% YoY.

North American carriers’ freight volumes expanded 5.6% and capacity increased by 2.6% YoY. Freight traffic across the Atlantic continued to strengthen, increasing by 9.0% in October 2016.

European airlines posted a 9.0% increase YoY in freight demand in November 2016. This was a slight slowdown compared to the 13.3% growth recorded in October 2016, possibly attributable in part to the strike at Lufthansa. Capacity in the region increased by 4.8% YoY.

Middle Eastern carriers enjoyed a boost in demand from the strong peak season with freight volumes increasing by 7.8% in November 2016 YoY. Freight volumes grew by just 4% on these routes in the January-October 2016 period, compared with 8-11% YoY. Capacity in the Middle East region increased by 5.1% YoY.

Boeing projects air cargo traffic will grow at an annual rate of 4.2% over the next 20 years, with 930 new and 1,440 converted freighters needed to meet market demand by 2035.

Latin American airlines experienced a demand contraction of 1.3% in November 2016 YoY. IATA reported that ‘within South America’ market has been the weakest performer to date with volumes down nearly 20% YoY. At the same time, capacity decreased by 1.6% in November 2016.

African carriers’ posted the largest increase in freight demand among the regions in November, 10.9% YoY. However, capacity surged by 26.9% on the back of long-haul expansion, particularly by Ethiopian Airlines, and this caused the freight load factor to fall in annual terms for the 19th consecutive month.