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GENEVA: April 04, 2018. IATA member airlines report a 6.8 percent increase in air cargo demand in February 2018 compared to the same period last year. Adjusting for the Lunar New Year, this was the strongest start since 2015.

While demand outgrew a 5.6 percent rise in capacity during the month which helped maintain yields, IATA economist David Oxley warned the gap between supply and demand has begun to narrow.

MNG new logo“It is worth noting that the new export orders component of the manufacturing PMI has softened in a number of key exporting countries in recent months, perhaps partly reflecting heightened concerns of a trade war,” he said.

“While the series generally remain above the notional 50-mark that is consistent with increasing demand for manufactured goods exports, order books in some countries – notably Germany, China, and the US – are no longer growing as quickly as they were a year ago,” he continued.

“Given that demand for airfreight tends to be the strongest at the start of economic and trade upturns, this further illustrates the gradual shift in the demand drivers away from the highly supportive levels that were in place throughout 2017.”

As a result, the seasonally-adjusted demand for air cargo which rose at a double-digit annualized rate for much of 2017 is now trending at 3.0 percent, Oxley added.

"The positive outlook for the rest of 2018, however, faces some potentially strong headwinds, including escalation of protectionist measures into a full-blown trade war. Prosperity grows when borders are open to people and to trade, and we are all held back when they are not," declared IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac.

During February, Asia-Pacific airlines saw air cargo demand grow 6.5 percent as capacity increased 7.2 percent; in North America, airline volumes rose 7.3 percent while capacity increased 4.1 percent; European airlines posted a 5.7 percent hike in traffic and a 3.8 percent rise in capacity; Middle Eastern carriers’ year-on-year freight volumes rose 7.4 percent while capacity increased 7.6 percent; Latin American airlines saw demand rise 8.7 percent as capacity rose 6.9 percent; and African carriers reported a 15.9 percent jump in demand as capacity increased just 3.9 percent.

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