By Sam Bridge
IATA figures show impact of disruption to global supply chains and weak global trade, together with airline restructuring in the region
Middle East airlines saw freight volumes decrease by 3.4 percent year-on-year in December as capacity increased by just 1.9 percent, the lowest of any region in the world.
This contributed to an annual result of a decline in demand of 4.8 percent in 2019 – the second biggest decline in growth rate of all the regions, according to new data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
IATA said annual capacity increased just 0.7 percent, adding that disruption to global supply chains and weak global trade, together with airline restructuring in the region, were the chief drivers of the weaker freight outcome.
Globally, IATA said air freight markets fell by 3.3 percent compared to 2018 while capacity rose by 2.1 percent.
This was the first year of declining freight volumes since 2012, and the weakest performance since the global financial crisis in 2009.
In the month of December, cargo volumes contracted 2.7 percent year-on-year while capacity rose 2.8 percent.
IATA said there are signs that confidence and orders could pick up in 2020, adding that it is too early to say what long-term effects will be seen from the impact of restrictions associated with the coronavirus outbreak.
“Trade tensions are at the root of the worst year for air cargo since the end of 2009. While these are easing, there is little relief in that good news as we are in unknown territory with respect to the eventual impact of the coronavirus on the global economy. With all the restrictions being put in place, it will certainly be a drag on economic growth. And, for sure, 2020 will be another challenging year for the air cargo business,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.