Regional carriers increase air freight transport

Middle Eastern carriers increased their air cargo by 11.3 per cent year-on-year in 2015, bucking a global slowdown.

For December alone, airlines in the region transported 4 per cent more year-on-year, data from the International Air Transport Association (Iata) showed yesterday, as the airlines’ trade association anticipates growth will remain “robust” for this year.

“The region enjoyed a strong year as network expansion into emerging markets was supported by economic growth in local economies,” said Iata. “Political instability and the fall in the oil price may impact on some economies in the region, but growth as a whole remains rob­ust enough to support further expansion in 2016.”

Globally, air cargo grew by just 2.2 per cent last year, compared with 2014. Air cargo in Asia-Pacific, which makes up 39 per cent of air freight traffic, grew by only 2.3 per cent. Meanwhile, Europe and North America, which comprise about 43 per cent of global air freight, was flat for last year. “2015 was another very difficult year for air cargo,” said Tony Tyler, Iata’s director general and chief executive. “Growth has slowed and revenue is falling. In 2011, air cargo revenue peaked at US$67 billion. In 2016, we are not expecting revenue to exceed $51bn.”

Airlines in the Middle East, such as Emirates, are ramping up their freight services. The Dubai-based airline opened its new cargo hub in November and announced its plan to increase annual freight capacity to 12 million tonnes by 2050, even as the pace of global trade weakens amid China’s econ­omic slowdown.

The freighter facility, close to Al Maktoum International Airport in the logistics district of Dubai South, would handle 1 million tonnes of cargo annually by 2018, up from the current capacity of 810,000 tonnes, Emirates said at the Dubai Airshow in November.

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