Global air freight sees robust revival

Global air freight sees robust revival

Cargo at Suvarnabhumi airport. Improved world trade has given the global air freight market a strong boost. SOMCHAI POOMLARD
Cargo at Suvarnabhumi airport. Improved world trade has given the global air freight market a strong boost. SOMCHAI POOMLARD

Improved world trade helped the global air freight market surge nearly 13% in May, more than triple the average growth rate seen in the last five years.

The record growth reflects the robust revival of air cargo which had languished in previous years, analysts say.

New data released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) showed air freight demand, measured in freight tonne kilometres, grew 12.7% in May from the year-earlier period.

This also marked an improvement from 8.7% annualised growth recorded in April and was significantly higher than the five-year average growth rate of 3.8%, the IATA said.

The continued growth of air freight demand is consistent with an improvement in world trade.

This corresponds to new global export orders remaining close to a six-year high in May, the association said.

But it cautioned there are signs cyclical growth may have peaked, citing the nascent rise of the global inventory-to-sales ratio as an example.

Analysts say this indicates fewer companies are looking to re-stock their inventories quickly, which often gives air cargo a boost.

Nonetheless the outlook for air freight remains positive with demand expected to grow at a robust 8% in the third quarter, according to analysts.

IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac said the "onus is on the industry to improve its value proposition by accelerating process modernisation and enhancing customer-centricity".

All regions, with the exception of Latin America, reported year-on-year double-digit increases in demand in May.

Asia-Pacific airlines' freight volume expanded 11.3% in May compared with the same period a year earlier while capacity increased 6.2%.

North American carriers posted an increase in freight volume of 13.9% and a capacity increase of 4.1%.

European airlines saw freight volume jump 15% and capacity climb 5.7%, while carriers from the Middle East enjoyed a 10.2% increase in freight volume.

Carriers from Latin America saw lower growth as demand in May rose 6.7% while African carriers beat all other regions with freight volume growing 27.6%.

In Thailand, cargo pushed through major airports operated by Airports of Thailand Plc grew 10.6% in May to 132,639 tonnes.

Combined tonnage at these Thai airports, including Suvarnabhumi, soared 11.7% to 652,938 tonnes in the first five months from the same period in 2016, AoT figures show.

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