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Economics 14 July 2019

May Air Freight Volumes Remain Weak

Global demand for air freight decreased by 3.4% in May 2019, compared to the same period in 2018. This was a slight improvement on the 5.6% contraction in April.


Air cargo demand has suffered from very weak global trade volumes and trade tensions between the US and China. This has contributed to declining new export orders. The indicator for new manufacturing export orders, part of the global Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), has indicated falling orders since September 2018. The impact of the US-China trade war on air freight volumes in May was clear. Easing trade barriers and restoring business confidence is needed for demand in air freight to increase.

All regions reported year-on-year demand decline in May 2019, except Africa and Latin America. 


Middle East

Middle Eastern airlines’ freight volumes decreased 6.9% in May 2019 compared to the year-ago period. Capacity decreased by 1.6%. A clear downward trend in seasonally-adjusted international air cargo demand is now evident with weakening air freight volumes to/from North America and to/from Asia Pacific contributing to the softer performance. Once again, these flows reflect the broader weakness in global trade volumes, combined with the impact of the restructuring of airline business models currently underway in the region. 

Africa

African carriers posted the fastest growth of any region in May 2019, with an increase in demand of 8.0% compared to the same period a year earlier. This continues the upwards trend in FTKs that has been evident since mid-2018 and makes Africa the strongest performer for the third consecutive month. Capacity grew 13.4% year-on-year. Strengthening trade and investment linkages with Asia have underpinned a double-digit increase in air freight volumes between the two regions over the past year.


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