European carriers’ freight volumes grew by 3.4% in August, with capacity having increased by 4.2%, while freight volumes in the Middle East were up 23.8% year-on-year, with year-to-date growth of 12.7%.

However, African freight volumes fell significantly, decreasing by 9.7% year-on-year.

“After a positive start to 2013, African airline airfreight growth has slowed and is now up by just 0.7% for the year to date. Despite healthy trade volumes and strong growth in many African countries, African airlines face intense competition on key trade routes,” Iata stated.

Globally, the demand for airfreight had been increasing slowly from April, in line with strengthening business confidence as economic performance in Europe and the US showed signs of improvement.

Iata pointed out that a strong upswing would, however, require a significant improvement in the cargo performance of airlines in the Asia-Pacific region, as they were the largest players in global air cargo industry with a collective 38% market share.

However, Asia-Pacific airlines’ freight demand remained flat in August, with a 0.2% decline compared with the previous corresponding period. This was, however, an improvement on the year-to-date performance, which showed a 1.9% decline.

According to Iata, the flatline performance of the region’s carriers could largely be attributed to a slowdown in emerging markets and a deceleration of China’s growth over the first half of the year.

Meanwhile, Latin American airlines grew their freight volumes by 12.6% in August, with robust trade volumes providing a solid foundation for expansion in airfreight demand.

“There are some signs of improvement in demand, but the air freight business remains very tough. Freight volumes are only now reaching the levels of 2011 when the cargo business peaked with revenues of $67-billion,” Iata director-general and CEO Tony Tyler said.

He added that the industry body expected global air cargo revenues of $59-billion that would take the top line back to 2007 levels.  

“However, to earn that revenue, we will be moving nearly 17% more cargo and dealing with a 40% hike in jet fuel. The road ahead will be challenging,” he said.