Gulf carriers buck global cargo slowdown

Region's airlines post 9.7% growth in May as worldwide freight business flatlines

Cargo business for Middle East carriers grew by nearly 10 percent last month, making it by far the best performing region in the world, according to latest figures released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

While global cargo markets continued to flatline during May, the region's airlines posted 9.7 percent growth with year to date figures up by 10.9 percent compared to the first five months of 2012.

"In addition to their aggressive hub strategy at the crossroads of East and West, and the growth of routes out of Africa to China, the Gulf-based carriers have also been air freighting goods that have arrived by sea. In addition new routes from the Gulf to Japan are set to benefit from an upswing in Japanese exports," IATA said in a statement.

Globally, it said cargo growth has continued to flatline in May, broadly following the trend of the last 18 months.

Global freight tonne kilometres increased just 0.8 percent in May compared to a year ago.

Capacity, however, increased by 2.1 percent causing load factors to fall to 44.9 percent - their lowest level since the post crisis recovery.

IATA said the stall in cargo markets appears to be the result of a recent softening in growth in developing economies, including China.

Moreover, business confidence is flat globally and declining in some developing economies, meaning chances of a significant upturn in the near future is unlikely.

Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO, said: “It is getting harder to find optimistic signs for air cargo growth. The Middle East remains a bright spot, and the rate of decline in the Eurozone is easing. But this is offset by the weakening of expansion in Asia-Pacific.

"It is now clear that the positive global upswing in air cargo at the end of 2012 was an illusion. Air cargo, along with many parts of the world economy, appears to be in suspended animation at the moment.”

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