- Growth of industry-wide freight ton kilometers (FTKs) slowed in February to 6.8%, after a strong start in 2018, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said.
- Despite the slow down, January and February combined saw robust growth in air freight volumes, making it the strongest year since 2015.
- Meanwhile, available freight ton kilometers (AFTKs) picked up, growing 5.6% — the strongest rate of growth since April 2016.
While air freight has grown steadily in recent years, IATA indicated this may be the peak for the freight industry.
"There are increasing signs that the best of the upturn for air freight is now behind us," the association wrote in its analysis.
A strong global trade network helped boost air freight demand, according to IATA. But now, uncertainty looms over global trade, with deals like NAFTA and CPTPP still in negotiation and several tariffs announced by China and the U.S.
"The recent pick-up in protectionist measures and the prospects of a global trade war arguably mean that the risks to the broader trade outlook are on the downside," IATA said.
It's too early to tell whether those trade concerns will impact air freight volumes, but IATA said it's an issue it will "continue to monitor closely."