Air freight volume drops in March pointing to weak growth in global trade: IATA

Global manufacturing and trade have shown further signs of stagnation, with international air freight volume dropping last month.
Global manufacturing and trade have shown further signs of stagnation, with international air freight volume dropping last month.PHOTO: AIRBUS

SINGAPORE - Global manufacturing and trade have shown further signs of stagnation, with international air freight volume dropping last month.

Fresh data provided by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) on Thursday (May 5) showed a 2 per cent year-on-year drop in global air freight volume, measured in freight tonne kilometres, while capacity jumped 6.9 per cent.

The worst hit carriers were from the Asia Pacific and Latin America regions, IATA data showed. Asia Pacific carriers, which have a 38.9 per cent share of the global air freight market, suffered a 5.2 per cent drop in demand. Latin American carriers saw volime fall 5.9 per cent.

The weak figures in March were due partly to a higher base early last year when air freight volumes were boosted by the impact of the US West Coast seaport strikes, but a string of disappointing Purchasing Manager's Index numbers in recent days have underlined the global slowdown in trade.

Markit's US manufacturing PMI came in at 50.8 in April, down from March's 51.5. In China, the Caixin PMI slid to 49.4 last month, down further from March's 49.7.

Said IATA chief executive Tony Tyler: "It's shaping up to be another tough year for air cargo. February 2016 world trade volumes were only 0.4 per cent higher than at the end of 2014. And the expectations of purchasing managers give little optimism for an early uptick.

"The combination of fierce competition, capacity increases and stagnant demand makes this a very difficult environment in which to generate profits."