Geneva - The International Air Transport Association (Iata) released data for global air freight markets showing that demand, measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTKs) grew by 3.8% in 2016 compared to 2015.
This was nearly double the industry’s average growth rate of 2.0% over the last five years. Freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometres (AFTKs), increased by 5.3% in 2016.
African carriers’ had the second fastest growth in year-on-year freight volumes, up 13.6% in December 2016 and a capacity increase of 5.3%. This contributed to an annual growth in freight demand of 3.1% in 2016, down from 4.5% in 2015.
However, capacity surged by 25.5% in the 2016 calendar year on the back of long-haul expansion, particularly by Ethiopian Airlines, causing a fall in the freight load factor. Africa, currently accounts for just 1.6% of the global air cargo market share.
All global regions, with the exception of Latin America, experienced positive freight growth in 2016. Carriers in Europe accounted for almost half of the total annual increase in demand.
After a weak start to 2016, global freight volumes recovered in the second half of the year. A strong peak season, an increase in the shipment of silicon materials and a turnaround in new export orders contributed to the later uptick in demand. The early timing of the Lunar New Year (in January 2017) may also have helped push demand higher in December.
"In terms of demand, 2016 was a good year for air cargo. That was boosted by solid year-end performance. Looking ahead, strong export orders are good news. But there are headwinds. The most significant is stagnant world trade which also faces the risk of protectionist measures. Governments must not forget that trade is a powerful tool for growth and prosperity," said Alexandre de Juniac, Iata’s director general and CEO.
"The air cargo industry must also improve its competitiveness. We know that the way forward is defined by digital processes which will drive efficiency and improve customer satisfaction. We must use the momentum of renewed demand growth to drive the important innovations of the e-cargo vision."