ME carriers' cargo volumes dip 1.4pc in January

Middle Eastern carriers’ cargo volumes decreased 1.4 per cent in January and capacity increased by 2.9 per cent compared to the year-ago period, according to figures released by the International Air Transport Association (Iata). Against a backdrop of operational and geopolitical challenges facing some of the region’s key airlines, seasonally-adjusted freight volumes ticked down in January, but a modest upwards trend has been sustained. However, given the Middle East’s position connecting trade between China and the rest of the world, the region’s carriers have significant exposure to the impact of COVID-19 in the period ahead.
Airlines in Asia-Pacific and Europe suffered sharp declines in year-on-year growth in total air cargo volumes for the month, while North American and Middle East carriers experienced a more moderate decline.

Latin America and Africa were the only regions to record growth in air freight demand compared to January 2019.  The International Air Transport Association (Iata) has released data for global air freight markets showing that demand, measured in cargo tonne kilometers (CTKs), decreased by 3.3 per cent in January, compared to the same period in 2019. “January marked the 10th consecutive month of year-on-year declines in cargo volumes.

The air cargo industry started the year on a weak footing. There was optimism that an easing of US-China trade tensions would give the sector a boost in 2020. But that has been overtaken by the COVID-19 outbreak, which has severely disrupted global supply chains, although it did not have a major impact on January’s cargo performance.

Tough times are ahead. The course of future events is unclear, but this is a sector that has proven its resilience time and again,” said Alexandre de Juniac, Iata’s director general and CEO. Cargo capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometres (ACTKs), rose by 0.9 per cent year-on-year in January 2020.

Capacity growth has now outstripped demand growth for 21 consecutive months. It is unlikely that the COVID-19 outbreak had very much to do with January’s weak performance. Lunar New Year in 2020 was earlier than in 2019.

This skewed 2020 numbers towards weakness as many Chinese manufacturers would be closed for the holiday period.

February performance will give a better picture of how COVID-19 is impacting global air cargo. – TradeArabia News Service

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