The International Air Transport Association has released data for global air freight markets in April showing demand (measured in Freight Tonne Kilometers) was 3.2 per cent above previous year levels.
Demand has not, however, grown in recent months.
Traffic levels in April were slightly below those of January and 1.1 per cent lower than what was recorded in March.
Latest data show that prior improvements in the demand environment are experiencing some reversal.
Largely as a result of further slowdown in the emerging markets, mostly China, indicators of business confidence slipped further in April.
Levels still point toward growth, but at the weakest pace for the past five months.
World trade growth has also slowed over recent months.
However, momentum in advanced economies remains intact, and export orders still point to expansion.
This suggests that current sluggishness in the demand drivers is likely temporary.
“Trading conditions for air freight are difficult.
“Overall, business activity and trade have shifted down a gear after a strong end to 2013. And this is taking its toll on growth in the air cargo sector.
“Developed economies are still maintaining post-recession momentum and the expectation is for a stronger finish to the year,” said Tony Tyler, IATA director general.
The air cargo sector is committed to improving its attractiveness to shippers through efficiency.
The goal is to reduce shipping times by 48 hours before 2020.
A centrepiece of this effort is the e-freight initiative which seeks to modernize the air cargo sector with paperless business processes.
“Air cargo’s sales proposition is speed, and cumbersome processes are holding us back.
“In March we reached a significant milestone.
“For the first time, the e-Air Waybill (e-AWB) was used for over 200,000 shipments.
“That’s good news but we still have a long way to go,” said Tyler.