The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released data for global air freight markets showing that demand, measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs), rose 8.5% in April 2017 compared to the year-earlier period. IATA said while this was down from the 13.4% year-on-year growth recorded in March 2017, it is well above the average annual growth rate of 3.5% over the past five years.
Growth in freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometers (AFTKs), slowed to 3.9% in April 2017.
IATA stated that business confidence indicators remain consistently upbeat, suggesting year-on-year FTK growth will remain robust for the rest of the second quarter. However, it noted that there are signs that the cyclical growth peak for air cargo has passed, particularly given that the inventory-to-sales ratio stopped falling at the end of last year. It explained that air cargo often sees a boost in demand at the beginning of an economic upturn as companies look to restock inventories quickly, but this tapers as inventories are adjusted to new demand levels. Nevertheless, IATA said over the whole year, air freight is headed for a healthy growth rate of 7.5%, supported by strong pharmaceuticals and e-commerce.