Global air cargo suffers across all regions

Global air cargo throughput at international airports continues to languish in the doldrums, with volumes tumbling by 5.1 per cent in June, warns the Airports Council International (ACI) World trade association.

Total freight volumes declined by 3.2 per cent in the first half of 2019, writes Thelma Etim.

Contrastingly, data collated by the association shows that passenger traffic grew by 3.9 per cent year-over-year in June, up from 3.1 per cent in May.

Angela Gittens, director general of Airports Council International World, explains the cargo problem: “The trade tensions that persist between several major economies – and the accompanying GDP growth slowdown – have had more impact on the airfreight industry, which could possibly end 2019 in the negative.”

Whilst global cargo volumes dived in June, the domestic segment, mostly due to robust performances in North America and Europe, remained positive, at 1.3 per cent up for the first half of 2019.

North America limits damage, Asia-Pacific hit the hardest

According to the airports association, North America was the only major region with a positive, albeit marginal, year-to-date growth rate, having gained 0.5 per cent for the first six months of this year – a result which is more than four percentage points above the Europe and Asia-Pacific regions. The domestic market drove North America’s performance, having gained 4.1 per cent year-to-date, in comparison with a minus 4.4 per cent in its international market.

Among the worst affected is the Asia-Pacific region which continued its decline in June, with total cargo volumes down by 6.5 per cent, bringing its year-to-date growth rate to minus 5.9 per cent. Both of its freight market segments were negative for the first half of 2019, at minus 3.6 per cent for the domestic sector and minus 6.7 per cent for international shipments.

Europe’s airfreight business contracted by minus seven per cent in the month, bringing its year-to-date results to minus 4.4 per cent in the first half of this year. In line with the global trend, Europe’s international market drove most of the decline, at minus 4.6 per cent for the period.

Similarly, the Latin America-Caribbean region declined by 6.3 per cent in June, bringing its result to minus 1.9 per cent for the first six months of this year. The region’s domestic segment remained positive during the period, up two per cent, compensating slightly for the weakness in its international segment, which suffered a minus 3.5 per cent decline.

Africa’s airfreight industry was, along with North America, one of the two regional markets with positive growth in the first half of 2019. Its year-to-date result rose by 1.6 per cent. Notwithstanding that improvement, Africa’s monthly growth rate fell steeply in June, down to 0.3 per cent on a year-over-year basis.

Meanwhile, the previously buoyant Middle East air cargo market dropped by 7.1 per cent in June, bringing that region’s year-to-date growth rate to minus 2.7 per cent.