International Air Transport Association (IATA) data for global air freight markets showed that demand measured in freight ton kilometers (FTKs), fell 4.7 per cent in April 2019, compared to the same period in 2018.

This continued the negative trend in year-on-year demand that began in January. Freight capacity measured in available freight ton kilometres (AFTKs), grew by 2.6 per cent year-on-year in April 2019. Capacity growth has now outpaced demand for the last 12 months.

Air cargo volumes have been volatile in 2019, due to the timing of Chinese New Year and Easter, but the trend is clearly downwards, with volumes around 3 per cent below the August 2018 peak. Brexit-related, trade uncertainty in Europe and trade tensions between the US and China, have contributed to declining new export orders.

In month-on-month terms, export orders have increased only three times in the past 15 months and the global scale has been indicating a negative export demand since September. The continued weakness is likely to lead to further subdued annual FTK growth in coming months.

“April saw a sharp decline in air cargo growth and the trend is clearly negative this year. Cost inputs are rising, trade tensions are affecting confidence, and global trade is weakening. Airlines are adjusting their capacity growth to try and fall into line with the dip in global trade since the end of 2018. It all adds up to a challenging year ahead for the cargo business. Governments should respond by easing trade barriers in order to drive economic activity.”

Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO

Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Middle East suffered sharp declines, while Africa, Latin America and North America experienced modest increases in growth in April 2019. Asia-Pacific, airlines saw demand for air freight contract by 7.4 per cent in April 2019, compared to the same period in 2018.

This was the sixth consecutive month of falling demand around, where international volumes are down 8.1 per cent compared with the level of a year ago. As the world’s main manufacturing and assembly hub, the latest round of US tariffs is likely to negatively impact sentiment and activity in the region further.