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Good start for air cargo in 2017

GENEVA: March 07, 2017. Noting an increase in the shipment of silicon materials, IATA reported a 9.0 percent year-on-year jump in airfreight tonne-kilometers (FTKs) in January 2017, while capacity fell to 3.5 percent in the same period.

This was one percent less than December 2016 but well above the 3.0 percent annual growth rate over the past five years. The growth coincided with a rise in new export orders last month that reached their highest level since March 2011, according to the Association.

"It's been a good start to the year for air cargo. Demand growth accelerated in January, bolstered by strengthening export orders that outpaced the capacity growth that should be positive for yields," said IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac.

"Longer term, the entry into force of the Trade Facilitation Agreement will cut red tape at the borders for faster, cheaper and easier trade. The onus is now on the industry to seize the opportunity to accelerate the modernization of processes to make air cargo an even more compelling option for shippers," he added

RFD airport Amazon Prime AirAll IATA regions, with the exception of Latin America, reported an increase in demand in January with North American airlines' freight volumes expanding 6.1 percent as capacity increased 0.6 percent. Despite the strong Dollar, U.S./international freight volumes grew by 8.7 percent during the month – the fastest pace since the disruption in U.S. seaports boosted demand in February 2015.

Reflecting the general rise in North America traffic, Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD) has reported a 15.9 percent annual increase in air cargo as a result of ABX starting operations on behalf of Amazon last September (right), and UPS adding two flights a week in the last quarter of 2016.

The airport handled 922.69 million pounds of airfreight during the year– up from 795.84 million in 2015. This month ABX began a fourth flight a day from RFD for the eCommerce giant.

"We are very pleased with our cargo numbers for 2016," said Mike Dunn, executive director. "[They] support the fact that we are committed to taking well-calculated and thought-out risks to ensure RFD remains one of the strongest economic drivers in the region. We will continue to proactively identify and seek out cargo partnerships," he added.

Meanwhile Asia-Pacific IATA members saw volumes grow 6.0 percent in January this year as capacity increased 6.6 percent. IATA cited the rise in China's Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) to a 21-month high; Japan's PMI to a 36-month high; while Taiwan, Korea and Vietnam also reported increases.

Helped by new export orders - particularly in Germany - and the ongoing Eurozone currency weakness, European airlines posted an 8.7 percent increase in airfreight traffic  as capacity expanded 3.3 percent during the month.

Middle Eastern carriers reported an 8.4 percent rise in FTKs as capacity rose 3.3 percent year-on-year; while African carriers saw freight demand increase 24.3 percent due to strong growth on trade lanes with Asia. IATA said demand between the two continents jumped 57 percent during the month on the back of rapid long-haul expansion and increased direct services.

However, "blighted by weak economic and political conditions" the Association noted a 4.1 percent drop in traffic for Latin America airlines in January, despite a 1.4 percent capacity contraction year-on-year.

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