GENEVA, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- Demand in global air freight markets was flat in November, compared to the same period the year before, amid signs of weakening economic conditions, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said Tuesday.
November recorded the slowest rate of growth, in freight tonne kilometers measured since March 2016, following 31 straight months of year-on-year increases.
While international e-commerce continues to grow, overall demand faced significant headwinds, said IATA.
"Normally the fourth quarter is a peak season for air cargo. So essentially flat growth in November is a big disappointment," said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA's director general and CEO.
"While our outlook is for 3.7 percent demand growth in 2019, downside risks are mounting."
Three of the six regions reported year-on-year demand growth in November 2018, namely North America, the Middle East, and Latin America.
Asia Pacific, Europe and Africa all contracted.
Asia-Pacific airlines saw demand for air freight shrink by 2.3 percent in November 2018, compared to the same period in 2017.
It was the first time since May 2016 that monthly year-on-year demand declined.
IATA said weaker manufacturing conditions for exporters and shorter supplier delivery times particularly in China impacted the demand for Asia-Pacific airlines. Capacity increased by 3.1 percent.
De Juniac said trade tensions are "cause for great concern" and that governments "need to focus on enabling growth through trade, not barricading their borders through punitive tariffs."
Freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometers, rose by 4.3 percent year-on-year in November 2018.
It was the ninth consecutive month that capacity growth outstripped demand.
Among signs of weakness in global economic activity was a contraction in export order books in all major exporting nations, except for the United States.
North American airlines posted the fastest growth of any region for the second straight month in November with an increase in demand of 3.1 percent compared to the same period in 2017.
European airlines experienced a contraction in freight demand of -0.2 percent in November compared to the same period a year earlier.