International air cargo volumes fell 2.2 per cent in May year on year and slipped 0.4 per cent against previous month in line with deteriorating global conditions.
According to the latest figures released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) year-to-date global air freight volumes were 1.9 per cent lower than in 2011.
The weaker results show a general downward trend, excluding carriers based in the Middle East - the only bright spot with the region accounting for half this year's growth.
IATA said freight markets hit a low in the fourth quarter of 2011. "Since then, they have basically moved sideways with just a 1.5 per cent improvement on that level by May. The freight load factor stood at 45.3 per cent, unchanged from the previous month but 1.2 percentage points below May 2011 levels."
"The airline industry is fragile," said IATA director general and CEO Tony Tyler, former CEO of Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways. "Relief in oil prices provides some good news. Unfortunately, the softness in oil markets comes on the back of fears of deterioration in the European economy. Business and consumer confidence are falling. And we are seeing the first signs of that in slowing demand and softer load factors."
European airlines experienced the steepest declines in cargo in May, posting a 5.7 per cent decrease compared to a year ago but on a one per cent rise in capacity. North American airlines had a 1.9 per cent drop in demand while capacity was trimmed by 1.6 per cent. Asia-Pacific carriers saw a 4.1 per cent decline in volumes in May compared to the previous year, while capacity dipped just 1.7 per cent.