Geneva: Air freight grew by over one fifth in 2010, in a sign of global economic recovery, but severe weather in Europe and North America dented passenger demand at the end of the year, the airline body IATA said on Wednesday.
Both passenger and freight demand have now exceeded pre-recession levels but freight volumes have dropped 5% since the peak of the post-recession restocking boom in early 2010, the International Air Transport Association said.
IATA director-general Giovanni Bisignani said the world was moving again after an unprecedented decline in aviation demand in 2009. Airlines ended the year ahead of 2008 volumes but with a profit margin of only 2.7%.
“The challenge is to turn the demand for mobility into sustainable profits,” he said in a statement.
Demand for air cargo—an important indicator of world trade flows—was 6.7% higher in December than a year earlier after rising 5.4% in November, to show a 20.6% rise for the full year, IATA’s monthly traffic data showed.
The World Trade Organization has projected that global trade rebounded by a record 13.5% in 2010. IATA estimates that some 30% of world trade by value—more expensive goods than bulk cargos—are moved by air.
With freight demand growth oscillating between 35.2% in May and 5.8% in November, the industry is heading towards a more normal growthpattern in line with historical growth rates of 5-6%.
Severe weather in North America and Europe dented passenger demand in December, with growth slowing to 4.9% from 8.2% in November.
For the whole of 2010 passenger demand also rose by 8.2%.
IATA, whose 230 members include Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines, has forecast that airlines will make a cumulative profit in 2010 of $15.1 billion, but slowing demand will see this fall to $9.1 billion this year.