Air freight recovery takes protectionism hit: IATA

Tyler welcomes promising January figures but points to hindrances

Air freight recovery takes protectionism hit: IATA
IATA sees rise in global freight tonne kilometres

Protectionism is harming the recovery of the global airfreight market even as it shows signs of strengthening, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) states.

The statement adds weight to business concerns on the issue and comes at the same time as FedEx Chairman Fred Smith castigated governments on their trade-harming measures since the global financial crisis.

January performance data show global freight tonne kilometres rose 4.5 per cent in January compared with January 2013.

This is up on the 2.2 per cent year-on-year growth rate recorded in December, and is well above the 1.4 per cent full-year growth reported for 2013 as compared to 2012.

But IATA Director General and CEO Tony Tyler sounds a note of caution while welcoming the figures.

"It is a step-up in pace from the mild strengthening that we saw towards the second half of 2013. And in real terms, volumes are similar to the 2010 post-recession peak," Tyler says.

"But there is also ample reason to be cautious. Protectionist measures are part of the reason for a slower expansion of world trade than we would expect from current levels of industrial production. 

"Companies continue to re-organise supply chains in their efforts to move manufacturing on-shore.

"This positive start to the year will set an upbeat tone for the World Cargo Symposium next week.

"The key objective for this year must be for cargo airlines, shippers and freight forwarders to seize opportunities to improve the industry’s value proposition.

"They can do this by investing in new quality procedures to improve the efficiency, security and reliability of air freight.

"The e-Freight program for paperless shipments is essential for that, and the new quality benchmarking process, which we will reveal at next week’s symposium, is vital for improving quality across the board,"

In its regional analysis, IATA finds Asia-Pacific carriers grew by 3.8 per cent compared with January last year.

"Trade volumes in the region have rebounded as demand from Europe and North America for Asian manufactured goods improves," it says.

"However, latest indicators show that the Chinese economy could be slowing down, which would impact air cargo in the coming months."

In addition, with Lunar New Year falling on January 31, there may be some impact on February volumes.

"Capacity grew considerably faster than demand, at 9.7 per cent," IATA adds.

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