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CLARA MOSCHINI

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Airplanes and results. IATA: freight demand ends year up 3.5%

Despite softening late 2018

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released full-year 2018 data for global air freight markets showing that demand, measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs) grew by 3.5% compared to 2017. This was significantly lower than the extraordinary 9.7% growth recorded in 2017.

Freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometers (AFTKs), rose by 5.4% in 2018, outpacing annual growth in demand. This exerted downward pressure on the load factor but yields proved resilient.

Air cargo’s performance in 2018 was sealed by a softening in demand in December. Year-on-year, December demand decreased by 0.5%. This was the worst performance since March 2016. Freight capacity, however, grew by 3.8%. This was the tenth month in a row that year-on-year capacity growth outstripped demand growth.

International e-commerce grew in 2018 which was a positive factor for the year. Yet, there was a softening of several key demand drivers:

The restocking cycle, during which businesses rapidly built up inventories to meet demand, ended in early 2018;

Global economic activity weakened;

The export order books of all major exporting nations, with the exception of the US, contracted in the second half of 2018;

Consumer confidence weakened compared to very high levels at the beginning of 2018.

Regional Performance

Airlines in all regions with the exception of Africa reported an annual increase in demand in 2018.

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