While this growth in the slowest pace seen in the last five months, it is higher than the give-year average growth rate of 4.4 percent, IATA said. Freight capacity rose by 3.9 percent compared to September of last year, or less than half the pace of demand growth. This is positive for industry load factors, yields, and financial performance. Though it appears that the industry has passed a cyclical growth peak, year-to-date demand growth of 10.1 percent and a forecasted growth of 7.5 percent in air freight demand for 2017 may create “significant upside potential even if the peak of the economic cycle has passed,” said IATA.
"Demand for air cargo grew by 9.2 percent in September. While that’s slower than in previous months, it remains stronger than anything we have seen in recent memory. But there are signs that this demand spurt may have peaked. So it becomes even more important to reinforce the industry’s competitiveness by accelerating the modernization of its many antiquated processes," said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.
Regionally, airlines saw growth slowdowns, but still posted increases year-over-year:
• Asia-Pacific airlines saw freight volumes increase by 9.3 percent with capacity in the region expanded 5.3 percent in September;
• European airlines posted a 10.3 percent increase in freight demand in September 2017, and a capacity increase of 5.6 percent. According to IATA, freight demand is strongest on the routes to and from Asia and across the Atlantic;
• Middle Eastern carriers’ freight volumes increased 8.9 percent year-over-year while capacity increased 2.6 percent. September’s numbers were a slowdown from the previous month and strong competition on the Asia-Europe route is affecting seasonally-adjusted traffic, said IATA;
• Latin American airlines saw growth in demand of 7.6 percent and capacity increased by 5.9 percent compared to the same period in 2016. International freight volumes rose by 8.6 percent, well above the five-year average rate of 0.1 percent, signaling an economic recovery, said IATA;
• African carriers posted the largest demand increase of 17.7 percent; while a slowdown, it is more than twice the five-year average growth pace of 8.9 percent, said IATA. “Demand has been boosted by very strong growth on the trade lane to and from Asia which increased by more than 67 percent in the first eight months of the year,” IATA noted.