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IATA is putting a brave face on November’s 1.2% decrease in freight tonne-kilometres compared with November 2014.

“Total cargo volumes expanded compared with October 2015, and were higher than the low point in August. This indicates that the decline in cargo demand may be bottoming out,” the association said.

Asia-Pacific carriers saw a year-on-year fall of 1.5% in November compared with November 2014, while capacity expanded 3.2%. Compared to October, volumes expanded by a strong 1.9%. IATA commented: “Over recent months, the declining trend in volumes has halted. Better demand in advanced economies is driving export growth in some countries, particularly in Japan.”

However, the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) last week reported a 2.4% decline in November FTKs for member airlines based in the region, far sharper than indicated by IATA.

Andrew Herdman, AAPA director general said: “The air cargo business is suffering from the effects of market weakness in major trading economies, signs of inventory overhang and excess capacity.”

AAPA’s assessment of the increase in offered freight capacity was 1.8% for November, resulting in a fall of 2.9 percentage points in the average international freight load factor to 65.7% in and out of the Asia-Pacific region.

In the major air freight markets that, together with the Asia-Pacific region, make up more than 80% of total trade, IATA reported that European volumes were down by 2.0% in November and North America by 3.2%.

The smaller Latin American and African markets shrank by 6.4% and 6.0% respectively. The only exception was the Middle East, which posted 5.4% growth.

Describing November’s freight performance as “a mixed bag,” Tony Tyler, IATA director general and CEO, said: Although the headline growth rate fell again, and the global economic outlook remains fragile, it appears that parts of Asia-Pacific are growing again and globally, export orders are looking better. In fact, the downward trend in FTK volumes appears to be bottoming out.

“But there is a great deal of uncertainty. The current volatility of stock markets shows how much the health of the global economy – upon which air cargo depends – remains on a knife-edge,” he added.