Apr 05, 2017: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released demand growth results for global air freight markets for February 2017 showing an 8.4 percent increase in demand measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTKs) compared to the same period last year. After adjusting for the impact of the leap year in 2016, demand increased by 12 percent almost four times better than the five-year average rate of 3.0 percent.

Freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometres (AFTKs), shrank by 0.4 percent in February 2017.

The continued growth of air freight demand in 2017 is consistent with an uptick in world trade which corresponds with new global export orders remaining at elevated levels in March. Of particular note is the expanded volume of semiconductor materials typically used in high-value consumer electronics.

Alexandre de Juniac, director general and CEO, IATA, said, "February further added to the cautious optimism building in air cargo markets. Demand grew by 12 percent in February about four times the five-year average rate. With demand growing faster than capacity, yields got a boost. While there are signs of stronger world trade, concerns over the current protectionist rhetoric are still very real."

The rapid growth of niche markets such as cross-border, e-commerce and time and temperature sensitive pharmaceutical are showing robust growth as noted at the World Air Cargo Symposium held in Abu Dhabi last month.

"Any optimistic look at the future sees growing demand for specialised value added services. Shippers are telling us that the key to turning the current uptick in the cargo industry's fortunes into longer-term growth is modernising our antiquated processes. We must use the current momentum to push ahead with the elements of the e-cargo vision including the e-air waybill which is nearing 50 percent market penetration," said de Juniac.

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