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International aviation market continues to weaken according to ACI

According to ACI, air freight has continued to decline whilst passenger traffic has remained resilient with modest growth recorded.

International aviation market continues to weaken according to ACI

Airports Council International (ACI) World has reported that air transportation demand continued to show signs of a slowdown throughout April 2019.

The global air freight market – which almost returned a positive growth result in March – fell again in April with a decline of -3.6 per cent. The year-to-date result for the industry now stands at -2.6 per cent.

On the other hand, global passenger figures remained positive in April, growing by +2.9 per cent on a year-over-year basis. Year-to-date growth now stands at +3.5 per cent.

ACI World Director General, Angela Gittens, said: “With trade conflicts between the United States and its major partners remaining unresolved, and geopolitical tensions in the Middle East flaring up again, the indications are that 2019 could be a difficult year for the air freight market. The global backdrop remains weak for both emerging and advanced economies and it remains uncertain whether trade tensions can be resolved and whether key macroeconomic indicators such as consumption and direct investment will regain momentum before the end of the year.

ACI collects and analyses data from a significant sample of airports that provide regular reports on month-by-month passenger and freight statistics; this forms part of the world’s most comprehensive source for airport data.

Passenger traffic

According to ACI, domestic passenger traffic posted a +0.6 per cent year-over-year growth rate in April, moderating the total global passenger traffic result of +2.9 per cent, compared to the international passenger traffic growth rate of +5.6 per cent. Year-to-date results of domestic passenger traffic growth stood at +2.5 per cent, close to half of the international market’s growth rate of +4.9 per cent.

Of the major markets, Europe gained the most during the month, with a +4.8 per cent increase in total passenger volume. This increase was driven by the region’s international segment, which gained +6.7 per cent against a decline of -0.9 per cent for its domestic counterpart. The region stood at +4.6 per cent on a year-to-date basis.

North America also performed comparatively strongly given the global backdrop of uncertainty, gaining +3.5 per cent in April, and standing at +3.9 per cent on a year-to-date basis. The region’s international market gained +7 per cent during the month for a gain of +5.6 per cent for the first four months of the year.

While the Asia-Pacific year-to-date growth result is positive at +1.8 per cent, total passenger volume fell -1 per cent in April. The region’s domestic segment drove much of this decline, losing -3.9 per cent against April 2018. Given the usual strength of the region’s air transport market, this represents a major shift. The slowdown has been particularly pronounced since the start of the year and has affected most major markets in the region. China’s domestic market has remained relatively resilient to this trend until now. The country’s economy has slowed down and indications are that this regional trend may continue throughout the year.

Africa, benefiting from several tailwinds, such as the recovery of tourism in North Africa, rising oil prices and the launch of the Single African Air Transport Market, performed well in April, bringing its year-to-date growth rate to +7.4 per cent. The region, once subject to significant volatility, has grown consistently above +6 per cent in the last seven months. Latin America-Caribbean followed a similar trend, growing by +5.4 per cent since the start of the year.

The Middle East trailed behind, with a gain of +1.2 per cent for the period. This was still an improvement over March figures, however, when the region had been the only passenger market to post figures in the negative (-0.3 per cent).

Freight volumes

ACI suggest that after temporarily recovering some ground in March by slowing its decline, international freight once again posted a significant loss in April, losing -6.6 per cent on a year-over-year basis. The year-to-date figure stands at -4.4 per cent, more than one percentage point below its result for the first quarter of 2019. Continuing the general trend for the last months, domestic freight – mostly driven by activity in North America – remained positive, at +3.8 per cent for April and at +1.5 per cent on a year-to-date basis.

Of the major regional markets, only North America posted growth in April, gaining +1.4 per cent and standing at +0.7 per cent on a year-to-date basis. The region’s international freight was still down for 2019, however, at -4.2 per cent for the four first months of the year.

Europe`s freight volume fell by -5.5 per cent during the month, reaching -3.1 per cent year-to-date. Asia-Pacific had a worse result, losing -7 per cent against April 2018 and falling to -5.7 per cent for the first four months of 2019. The region was the only one to also post negative figures for domestic freight, at -3.1 per cent in April.

Latin America-Caribbean`s freight volume fell -2.1 per cent in April, bringing its year-to-date figure to -0.7 per cent. The Middle East also declined, down -4.3 per cent against April 2018. It fell -2.3 per cent for the first four months of the year.

Freight volume in Africa, which has been the most consistent source of freight growth in 2019, grew +6.8 per cent during the month. Though its year-to-date figure of +3.6 per cent remains moderate, it still stands more than six percentage points above the global industry’s year-to-date growth rate of +2.6 per cent.

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