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Air cargo volumes tumble

International air traffic growth has been hit by slowing Asian markets and the global economic meltdown, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said.

According to the latest figures released by the IATA, international freight saw its third consecutive month of contraction with a 2.7 per cent decline in August, with passenger demand growth slowing to 1.3 per cent, continuing disappointing growth of 1.9 per cent in July.

IATA CEO Giovanni Bisignani said the there was “a stark contrast” between traffic growth of 5.4 per cent in the first half of the year and the consecutive fall in the past two month.

“The slowdown has been so sudden that airlines can’t adjust capacity quickly enough.

“While the drop in the oil price is welcome relief on the cost side, fuel remains 30 per cent higher than a year ago. And with traffic growth continuing to decline, the industry is still heading for a UDS5.2 billion loss this year,” Mr Bisignani said.

Asian freight markets painted a grimmer picture, with demand slumping 6.8 per cent year-on-year in the month, following three consecutive months of contraction.

The traffic slowdown in Asia was mainly affected by Olympic-related security measures in China as well as a weakening Japanese economic outlook.

Mr Bisignani said the decline clearly indicated the importance of Asia Pacific markets, which account for nearly half of global air cargo. A sharp fall of 13.2 per cent in freight traffic in Latin America, along with weakening European and US carriers were also identified as major contributors to the slump. 

“Airlines carry 35 per cent by value of the goods traded internationally. The three-month is a clear indication that global trade is slowing down. This shows that the impact of the financial crisis is broad geographically and will worsen before it gets better,” he said.

He said the aviation crisis applied to every region, calling for urgent policy measures to curb the ongoing downturn.

“From taxation to charges and operational efficiencies, all areas impacting the business must be examined for ways to reduce costs and drive efficiencies.

“It’s a matter of survival,” Mr Bisignani said.

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