The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released full-year 2017 data for global air freight markets showing that demand, measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs) grew by 9.0%. This was more than double the 3.6% annual growth recorded in 2016.
Freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometers (AFTKs), rose by 3.0% in 2017. This was the slowest annual capacity growth seen since 2012. Demand growth outpaced capacity growth by a factor of three.
Air cargo’s strong performance in 2017 was sealed by a solid result in December. Year-on-year demand growth in December increased 5.7%. This was less than half the annual growth rate seen during the middle of 2017 but still well above the five-year average of 4.7%. Freight capacity grew by 3.3% year-on-year in December.
Full-year 2017 demand for air freight grew at twice the pace of the expansion in world trade (4.3%). This outperformance was a result of strong global demand for manufacturing exports as companies moved to restock inventories quickly.
– Air cargo had its strongest performance since the rebound from the global financial crisis in 2010. Demand grew by 9.0%. That outpaced the industry-wide growth in both cargo capacity and in passenger demand. We saw improvements in load factors, yields and revenues. Air cargo is still a very tough and competitive business, but the developments in 2017 were the most positive that we have seen in a very long time – said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
– The outlook for air freight in 2018 is optimistic. Consumer confidence is buoyant. And we see growing strength in international e-commerce and the transport of time- and temperature-sensitive goods such as pharmaceuticals. Overall the pace of growth is expected to slow from the exceptional 9.0% of this year. But we still expect a very healthy 4.5% expansion of demand in 2018. Challenges remain, including the need for industry-wide evolution to more efficient processes. That will help improve customer satisfaction and capture market share as the expectations of shippers and consumers grow ever more demanding – said de Juniac.
European airlines posted a 5.0% year-on-year increase in freight demand in December and a capacity rise of 3.2%. The strong performance in December boosted cargo volumes for the 2017 calendar year by 11.8% – the largest increase of all regions with the exception of Africa. Capacity in the region increased by 5.9% in the 2017 calendar year. This is consistent with Europe’s manufacturers’ export orders growing at their fastest pace on record. This is expected to support demand into the New Year.