Air Cargo Decline May Now Have Hit Its Floor

International Air Transportation Association (IATA) March data offers hope that air freight demand may have stabilized.

While passenger traffic continues to decline, air cargo demand has steadied this month and though figures show a “shockingly low level of minus 21.4%,” says Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s director general and CEO. “It’s not the end of the recession, but we may have found the floor.”

The association feels the decline in air freight has been driven, in part, as manufacturers have large inventories that built up late last year. IATA claims that stabilization of inventory to sales ratios has helped stabilize air freight demand. Reduction in inventory can only come as consumer demand rises. The association has predicted loss for 2009 to total $4.7 billion for all air lines.

By region, decline in cargo demand through the first quarter of the year has been -27.4% in Africa, -25.9% in Asia/Pacific, -22.0% in Europe, -19.3% in Latin America, -6.2% in the Middle East and -24.4% in North America. The industry as a whole was down 22.8%.

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