The growth in demand for air freight, measured in freight-tonne kilometres (FTKs), in Africa increased by more than 10% in February, in comparison to February last year. African air passenger traffic, measured in revenue-passenger-kilometres (RPKs) jumped 7.1% over the same period. This has been reported by the International Air Transport Association (Iata). Africa accounts for 1.6% of total global air freight (the biggest region, Asia-Pacific, is responsible for 37.5%). Africa has a 2.2% share of total global air passenger traffic. (Again, Asia-Pacific is the biggest region, with 32.9%.)
“African carriers saw freight demand increase by 10.6% (or more than 14%, adjusting for the leap year) in February 2017, compared with the same month last year, and capacity increased by 1.0%,” stated Iata. “Year-to-date demand has increased by 16.2%, helped by very strong growth on the trade lanes to and from Asia. The increase in demand has helped the region’s seasonally adjusted load factor rise by 2.8 percentage points so far in 2017.”
“[Regarding passenger traffic], African airlines continued their recovery, with February traffic up 7.1%, compared with a year ago. This mainly reflects the upturn on the key route to and from Europe, offsetting struggles in the region’s biggest economies of Nigeria and South Africa. Capacity rose 2.3%, and the load factor jumped 2.9 percentage points to 66.0%.” Domestic air travel accounts for 14% of total African air travel, the rest being international.
In every region besides Latin America, air freight increased in February, compared with February last year. Although Latin America saw a contraction of 4.9% (which, however, reduces to 1% when adjusted for the 2016 leap year), the global figure rose by 8.4% in FTKs, or by 12% when adjusted for the leap year. This is in line with rising international trade and new global export orders, which remained high in March.
“February further added to the cautious optimism building in air cargo markets,” pointed out Iata director-general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac. “Demand grew by 12% in February – about four times the five-year average rate. With demand growing faster than capacity, yields got a boost. While there are signs of stronger world trade, concerns over the current protectionist rhetoric are still very real.”
With regard to passenger traffic, every region, including Latin America, saw an increase. Global passenger traffic (RPKs) increased by 4.8%, compared with February 2016, but this rises to about 8.6% when adjusted for the leap year. International passenger traffic increased by 5.8% (figure not adjusted for the leap year), while domestic passenger traffic around the world rose by 3.3% (again, figure not adjusted for the leap year). Worldwide, international capacity increased by 3.4% and domestic passenger capacity by 1.6%. Domestic air travel is responsible for 36% of all air travel worldwide. (This proportion is lowest in Europe, at 11%, and highest in the US, at 66%.)
“The strong demand momentum from January has continued, supported by lower fares and a healthier economic backdrop,” he affirmed. “Although we remain concerned over the impact of any travel restrictions or closing of borders, we have not seen the attempted US ban on travel from six countries translate into an identifiable traffic trend. Overall, travel demand continues to grow at a robust rate.”
Regarding aviation security, De Juniac called on governments to consult with airlines before introducing new measures. “It’s intolerable that governments continue to add to the uncertainties facing the air transport industry by failing to engage airline operational know-how on issues that can damage public confidence,” he asserted. “The introduction of restrictions on the carry- on of large electronic devices was a missed opportunity and the result was a measure that cannot stand up to the scrutiny of public confidence in the long term . . . We all want to keep flying secure. And we can do that most effectively by working together.”