OECD statistics shows slow air cargo growth in 2011 first half

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Published: September 16, 2011

Cargolux 747-400F. By Rob Finlayson

International trade statistics through the first half of 2011 reveal that “the overall picture for global freight is one of growth slowing down,” the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) International Transport Forum (ITF) said in a new global trade and transport “statistics brief” released this week.

Airfreight is not immune to overall slowing trade. “The air cargo recovery … has faltered and volumes are now only 9% above pre-crisis levels in the EU area compared to

15% in [February 2011],” ITF said. “External trade in tonnes of goods carried by air in the United States has shown practically no growth and total trade in tonnes is only 2% above the pre-crisis peak.”

ITF said the “risks of dependence on Asia-led global growth are exposed … Trade by air with China declined for both the [US and EU in the 2011 first half], possibly indicating a slowdown in demand from the world’s engine for growth … Only trade with India seems to have resisted [the] otherwise downward trend.” ITF noted, “Both sea and air exports from the [US] to China declined between February 2011 and June 2011. [EU] exports to China grew in Q2 but [were] fairly flat for the first half of 2011 as a whole.”

After global air cargo traffic shrankby around 25% in less than 18 months in 2008/2009, the industry experienced a robust recovery in 2010 (ATW, Jan 1). While cautioning earlier this year that a “great deal of uncertainty” remains regarding international air cargo demand going forward, Air Cargo Management Group predicted that global FTK growth would be in the range of 4.5%-5.5% per year going forward (ATW Daily News, Feb. 11).

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