Global logistics faces confidence tailspin

Air cargo seeks to buck trend but uncertainty rules


The international Stifel Logistics Confidence Index hit a record low last month, host research firm Transport Intelligence (TI) reveals.

The Index, which covers air and sea freight globally, does note some pinpricks of light amidst the gloom, as does International Air Transport Association (IATA).

In something of a role-reversal compares with earlier this decade, transatlantic trade is looking healthier as China-related freight falters.

"Of the four trade lanes covered by the Index, Europe to US continues to be the most positive, representing the highest-scoring route across both air and sea as well as current and expected situation, with continued strength of the US dollar against the Euro helping to boost performance," Index researchers note.

"By contrast, the performance of trade lanes between Europe and Asia, in both directions, continues to be poor."

Global air freight markets showing air cargo volumes, measured in freight tonne kilometers, were down 1.2 per cent in November 2015, compared to November 2014.

Total cargo volumes, however, expanded compared with October 2015, and were higher than the low point in August.

IATA sees this as indicating that the decline in cargo demand may be bottoming out. 

The negative year-on-year comparisons occurred across all regions with the exception of the Middle East.

Of the major markets that together comprise more than 80 per cent of total trade, Europe was down 2 per cent, North America by 3.2 per cent, and Asia-Pacific by 1.5 per cent.

The comparative weakness in these regions was driven largely because the performance in November 2014 was very strong.

 Latin American and African markets also fell, by 6.4 per cent and 6 per cent respectively. The Middle East posted 5.4 per cent growth.

"The freight performance in November was a mixed bag," IATA director general and CEO Tony Tyler says.

"Although the headline growth rate fell again, and the global economic outlook remains fragile, it appears that parts of Asia-Pacific are growing again and globally, export orders are looking better.

"In fact, the downward trend in FTK volumes appears to be bottoming out. But there is a great deal of uncertainty.

"The current volatility of stock markets shows how much the health of the global economy – upon which air cargo depends – remains on a knife-edge."

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