Air cargo growth slows, suggests global economy cooling

Air cargo growth slows, suggests global economy cooling

Zurich: International air cargo traffic grew at a slower annual pace in September, in a fresh sign that the global economy is cooling, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) said on Tuesday.

The trend in freight traffic -- a good indicator for global trade and economic activity -- was weaker than expected and volumes were now 6% below the post-crisis peak hit in May, Iata said.

“The freight numbers are worrying," said Iata’s director general Giovanni Bisignani. “What we see in air cargo markets is inevitably reflected in the broader economy."

Air freight traffic grew 14.8% year-on-year, down from 19% growth in August, translating into a month-on-month fall of 2.1% when adjusted for seasonal factors, Iata said.

Freight demand remained 14% below pre-recession levels in Europe despite the weaker euro and was also still 1% down in North America.

Passenger traffic picked up in September, with growth accelerating to 10.5% from 6.5% recorded in August.

“The industry’s situation is volatile," said Bisignani. “Passenger traffic represents about three quarters of the industry’s revenues. While September’s passenger growth is reassuring, the accelerating decline of air freight, including in Asia, is an early indicator of some turbulence ahead."

Iata represents 240 airlines operating 94% of all international traffic. Domestic flights are excluded from its data.