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Thu 5 May 2016 08:41 AM

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MidEast air cargo demand growth slows to 80-month low

IATA data shows growth hits just 2.4% in March due to slowdown in network expansion, weak trading conditions

MidEast air cargo demand growth slows to 80-month low
Generic airplane, airport

Air cargo demand growth in the Middle East registered its weakest performance for nearly seven years in March, according to new International Air Transport Association (IATA) data.

IATA said in a statement that Middle Eastern carriers reported a 2.4 percent increase in demand over March last year - the slowest since July 2009.

It added that this reflects "both a slowdown in network expansion by the region’s main carriers over the past six months and weak trading conditions". 

Globally, IATA said air freight markets for March showed a 2 percent drop in volumes measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTKs) compared to the same period last year.

In contrast, freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometres or AFTKs, rose by 6.9 percent, putting increased pressure on already struggling yields.

IATA said the weak results reflect subdued growth in world trade, exaggerated by the comparison to a particularly strong start to 2015 when air freight volumes were boosted by the effects of the US West Coast seaports strike.

The most significant fall in demand was reported by carriers in Asia-Pacific and North America. Combined they account for around 60 percent of global freight traffic and reported declines of 5.2 percent and 1.8 percent respectively.

Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO, said: "It is shaping up to be another tough year for air cargo. February 2016 world trade volumes were only 0.4 percent higher than at the end of 2014.

"And the expectations of purchasing managers gives little optimism for an early uptick. The combination of fierce competition, capacity increases and stagnant demand makes this a very difficult environment in which to generate profits."

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