International air freight volume began to show signs of recovery in June after 18 months of stagnation, but the head of global airline group IATA warned that it is premature to view it as a turning point.
Figures released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) showed a 1.2% year-on-year expansion in global air freight demand.
Although weak, this was an improvement on the 0.9% growth in May and the 0.1% growth realised over the first half of the year, it said.
Global freight volume increased by 0.8% in June from the previous month. A quarter of that upturn was captured by European airlines, which saw a 0.9% improvement from May and a rise of 2.6% compared with June 2012.
In contrast, Asia-Pacific carriers, which are the biggest players in global air freight, and North American airlines recorded year-on-year declines of 1.8% and 1.2% respectively in June.
Asia-Pacific demand continued to be weak, with volumes contracting by 2.3% in the first six months, the weakest performance among regions and reflecting the broad impact of China's slowing economic expansion.
By contrast, European carriers grew freight volumes by 2.6% in June. Though the euro zone remains in recession, there are signs of stability.
North American airlines reported a 1.6% fall in the first half, with the US economy slowing in the second quarter.
IATA director-general Tony Tyler said though June's air freight volume was at its highest level since mid-2011, the global economic environment remains weak and the basis for the improvement appears fragile.
The July edition of IATA's Airline Business Confidence Index showed nearly 58% of respondents expecting freight volume to increase over the next year.
But 72.2% expected no change in weak cargo yields despite an expected increase in demand over the same period.
With macroeconomic trends still challenging, recent declines in global export orders do not bode well for trade growth.
About the author
- Writer: Boonsong Kositchotethana
Position: Deputy Editor Business