- Air cargo volumes in March, measured in freight ton kilometers (FTK), were marginally higher (0.1%) than a year earlier. While small, this uptick marked the first month of growth after four months of flat or negative volume change, according to the International Air Transport Association.
- "It would be premature to suggest that the uptick represents a change in the trend growth rate without first seeing signs of confirmation in coming months," IATA said.
- Capacity, measured in available freight ton kilometers (AFTK), grew by 3%. Capacity growth has outpaced demand for 11 of the past 12 months, according to IATA.
Indicators including the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) and global trade numbers can signal shifts for the air cargo market. Trade numbers have been on a downward slide since the fourth quarter of 2018, according to numbers cited by IATA. And the PMI is not looking much better, having increased just twice in the last 14 months.
"At current levels, the indicator continues to suggest that annual FTK growth is likely to remain subdued over the coming few months at least," IATA wrote.
The trade war between China and the United States continues to make the trade landscape uncertain. The numbers out of China sent a mixed signal in March with exports rising 14.2% and imports shrinking 7.6% from a year earlier, according to Reuters. March was at a relatively subdued stretch for the trade war, however. Tensions between the two countries have since escalated, and the impact of this has yet to be seen.
Asia Pacific continues to be the weakest market for air cargo with the region being down 3.8% from March 2018 while North America was up 0.9%.
As Brazil has climbed out of a recession it has been a boost for the Latin American air cargo market, as it's the only region to show annual growth for two months in a row with 2.8% growth in March.
"After four consecutive months of contraction, this is an encouraging development," Alexandre de Juniac, IATA's director general and CEO, said in a statement about the 0.1% growth in March. "But the headwinds from weakening global trade, growing trade tensions and shrinking order books have not gone away."