The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for global air freight markets showing that air cargo volumes measured by freight tonne kilometres rose just 0.5 per cent in October compared to a year ago.
Year-on-year expansion fell back from September’s faster growth rate, and total cargo volumes in October stand 1.1 per cent lower than the peak of the uptrend at the end of 2014.
European carriers have driven recent improvements in air cargo growth, but they ran out of steam in October with a rise of just 0.2 per cent, the IATA said.
Other regions also underlined the weak October trend. The most significant decline in cargo activity was experienced by North American carriers, who reported a 2.4 per cent fall in volumes.
Latin America (-8.1 per cent) and Africa (-1.1 per cent) are smaller markets and also declined. Asia-Pacific was up, little more than Europe with a rise of 0.3 per cent.
Growth in the Middle East, although a robust 8.3 per cent, was some 4.3 percentage points down on the average performance for the year to date.
"The outlook for air cargo continues to be very difficult," said Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO. "While there was some optimism from third quarter growth it has all but disappeared as the industry basically flat-lined.
"Cargo capacity has grown largely in lock-step with the continued robust demand for passenger travel. As a result, freight load factors have sunk to the 44 per cent range—a level not seen since 2009. Early signs of improvement in export orders may bode well for trade and air cargo but this is unlikely to prevent air cargo finishing 2015 on a low note,"