GENEVA, April 3 (Xinhua) -- Demand for air freight continues to face headwinds and decreased 4.7 percent in February compared to the same period in 2018, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) revealed on Wednesday.
This was the fourth consecutive month of negative year-on-year growth and the worst performance in the last three years, according to IATA.
"Cargo is in the doldrums with smaller volumes being shipped over the last four months than a year ago," said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA's Director General and CEO in a statement.
"And with order books weakening, consumer confidence deteriorating and trade tensions hanging over the industry, it is difficult to see an early turnaround," he said.
Freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometers, climbed by 2.7 percent year-on-year in February and it was the twelfth straight month that capacity growth outstripped demand growth.
All regions reported a contraction in year-on-year demand growth in February 2019 except for Latin America.
Asia-Pacific airlines saw demand for air freight contract by 11.6 percent in February 2019, compared to the same period in 2018.
Weaker manufacturing conditions for exporters in the region, ongoing trade tensions and a slowdown growth of the Chinese economy impacted the market.
De Juniac said that the industry is adapting to new markets for e-commerce and individual cargo shipments.
"But the bigger challenge is, trade is slowing. Governments need to realize the damage being done by protectionist measures.
"Nobody wins a trade war. We all do better when borders are open to people and to trade," he said.
North American airlines saw demand contract by 0.7 percent in February, compared to the same period a year earlier.
February was the first month of negative year-on-year growth recorded since mid-2016, reflecting the sharp fall in trade with China.
European airlines experienced a contraction in freight demand of 1.0 percent in February compared to a year ago.
The decline is consistent with weaker manufacturing conditions for exporters in Germany, one of Europe's major economies, said IATA.
Trade tensions and uncertainty over Brexit, the withdrawal of Britain from the European Union (EU), also contributed to a weakening in demand.
Latin American airlines posted the fastest growth of any region in February versus last year with demand up 2.8 percent.