The latest figures from Airports Council International (ACI) indicate a slowdown in freight growth in June, with increasing protectionism and the ongoing trade war between the US and China – the world’s main markets for air cargo – likely to maintain the downward trend.
Angela Gittens, ACI World director general, said: “While ACI has found that passenger traffic has continued to grow at a robust rate, the threat of increased economic uncertainty continues to loom over the air transport industry.
“With the volatility around increased protectionism between major trading nations set to continue to the end of 2018, these barriers to free trade could stifle the flow of cargo even further.
“A stronger commitment to partnership and cooperation is needed to achieve increased growth, not only in cargo but also in passenger volumes, so the benefits of aviation and global connectivity can be realised by the local, regional and national communities that aviation and, in particular, airports serve,” she added.
ACI predicts that “the odds are not good of 2018 repeating the growth figures recorded in 2017”. Monthly growth rates have been falling since January, and freight volumes slowed to a 2.3% increase on a year-over-year basis in June, bringing the year-to-date growth figure to 4.8%.
Looking at the regional breakdown, the Asia-Pacific airfreight market (which has almost 40% of total global air cargo volumes) is “showing significant resilience to shocks” given the current geopolitical context, Its first-half growth slowed from 8.6% in 2017 to 4.4% this year.
Airfreight volumes for North American airports grew by 5.7% in the first half of the year – but slowed to just 1.7% in June.
Conversely, stagnation has regained momentum in the first six month of 2018. “Year-to-date figures for the region stood at +10.6%, with both its domestic and international segments growing at a similar pace,” ACI said.
Europe’s airfreight market grew by 3.7% during the first half of 2018; ACI pointed out the region’s particularly strong performance in June of last year as a factor in the relatively modest growth seen so far this year.
Airports in the Middle East are suffering noticeably from events in the region. Volumes have not grown at all in 2018 and in June the decline reached 1.2% year on year.
More positively, Africa’s airfreight volumes rose 12.7% on a year-to-date basis in June.
“Although the market remains the smallest in the six regions, it has been posting more robust growth figures in the last 12 months and is [on] the right track to end 2018 with a stronger growth trend than in 2017, where it had grown 7.7%,” ACI said.
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