Middle East carriers saw air cargo growth of just 0.8 percent in March, consistent with the general weakening in regional performance over recent months.
The Middle East slowdown from over 7 percent growth in the previous month came amid a global slump during the month, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
It said in a statement released on Wednesday that global demand, measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTKs), rose 1.7 percent in March compared to the same period the year before.
This was 5 percent lower than the February result and the slowest pace of growth in 22 months.
The year-on-year increase in capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometres (AFTK) fell to 4.4 percent compared to 6.3 percent in February - the first time in 20 months that annual capacity rose faster than demand.
Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO, said: "It’s normal that growth slows at the end of a restocking cycle. That clearly has happened. Looking ahead we remain optimistic that air cargo demand will grow by 4-5 percent this year.
"But there are obviously some headwinds. Oil prices have risen strongly, and economic growth is patchy. The biggest damage could be political. The implementation of protectionist measures would be an own-goal for all involved—especially the US and China."
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