Air cargo carriers in the Middle East posted the strongest growth in demand internationally in 2013, expanding freight tonne kilometres (FTKs) by 12.8 per cent, according to data released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
“The Middle East has benefitted from improving economic conditions in Europe as well as solid growth in domestic Gulf economies,” the report said.
“Middle Eastern carriers have also captured a significant share of the increase in the volumes out of Africa,” it added.
Globally, IATA said that FTKs expanded by 1.4 per cent last year compared to 2012. Asia-Pacific carriers saw freight volumes fall one per cent in 2013, North American carriers’ witnessed a 0.4 per cent drop in volumes, African airlines saw freight volumes grow one per cent last year while European airlines reported cargo growth of 1.8 per cent in 2013.
“2013 was a tough year for cargo,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO.
“While we saw some improvement in demand from the second half of the year, we can still expect that 2014 will be a challenging year. World trade continues to expand more rapidly than demand for air cargo.
“Trade itself is suffering from increasing protectionist measures by governments. And the relative good fortunes of passenger markets compared to cargo make it difficult for airlines to match capacity to demand,” he said.
The industry also requires better technology to meet demand, Tyler said.
“The dynamics in which the air cargo industry operates are changing, but air cargo’s basic value proposition remains the same. Customers still need speed, quality, reliability and efficiency. And we need to get better at delivering it through improved technology and modern processes.
“This will be a year of change for air cargo. A key measure of success will be in passing the tipping point on e-air waybill implementation. That will lay the foundation for further improvements for a modern paperless air cargo industry that can only be achieved by aligning all stakeholders—including governments—in a common vision,” added Tyler.