Africa Posts Fastest Growth in Cargo Freight


Chinedu Eze

African carriers in May 2019 posted the fastest growth with an increase in demand by eight per cent, compared with same period a year earlier, a period other regions recorded weak growth.

This was in continuation of the upwards trend in FTKs (measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs)) that had been evident since mid-2018. It made Africa the strongest performer for the third consecutive month with capacity grew 13.4 per cent year-on-year.

Africa’s strengthening trade and investment linkages with Asia have underpinned a double-digit increase in airfreight volumes between the two regions over the past year, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has noted.

IATA’s released data for global air freight markets showed that demand decreased by 3.4 per cent in May 2019, compared to the same period in 2018. This was a slight improvement on the 5.6 per cent contraction in April.

In seasonally adjusted terms, the level of FTKs increased modestly for the third consecutive month, suggesting that the low point of this cycle may be behind us, although the market remains weak.

Freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometers (AFTKs), rose by 1.3 per cent year-on-year in May 2019. Capacity growth has now outstripped demand growth for the 13thconsecutive month.

Air cargo demand has suffered from very weak global trade volumes and trade tensions between the US and China. This has contributed to declining new export orders. The indicator for new manufacturing export orders, part of the global Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), has indicated falling orders since September 2018, IATA observed.

“The impact of the US-China trade war on air freight volumes in May was clear. Year-on-year demand fell by 3.4 per cent. It’s evidence of the economic damage that is done when barriers to trade are erected.

“Renewed efforts to ease the trade tensions coming on the sidelines of the G20 meeting are welcome. But even if those efforts are successful in the short-term, restoring business confidence and growing trade will take time. And we can expect the tough business environment for air cargo to continue,” said IATA’s Director General and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac.