As this year’s Airports Council International (ACI) North America/World Annual General Assembly, Conference and Exhibition commenced in Montreal, the trade association of the world’s airports, officially unveiled its World Airport Traffic Forecasts (WATF), which foresees modest air cargo traffic growth around 2.4 percent “on an annualized basis” through 2025. The report presented traffic projections at the global, regional and country levels, over three time intervals: short-, medium-, and long-term between 2016 and 2040.
Even though cargo is never the primary focus of ACI summits – which this year boasts passenger-centric panels like “creating a sense of place at the airport,” (something cargo does not yearn for) – many of the macroeconomic trends driving passenger growth, impact cargo as well.
Angela Gittens, director general of ACI World, played down intermittent fluctuations in the business cycle, claiming growth would persist, regardless. Passenger air transport demand, she said, “will originate to a large extent from emerging markets.” Gittens continued, “Large population bases and increases in per-capita incomes in these markets are major forces driving this demand.” The same could be said for drivers of airfreight demand, like cross-border e-commerce, which continues to find extraordinary growth in developing markets.
With respect to cargo, Gittens echoed what many have said before: “The weakened global economy and a sluggish global trade environment were definite deterrents to growth in air cargo volumes.” Gittens blamed modal shift, or what she calls “structural substitution,” for increasingly modest airfreight growth in the ballpark of 2.3 percent, annually, through 2040. The shift to ocean transport is more notable, Gittens said, for raw materials, perishables, and high-tech and machinery parts from Asia.
Despite a slow start to the year, airfreight demand picked up in June and July, according to ACI Figures. Although cargo demand is still down 1 percent, year-over-year, July recorded a 3.9 percent increase, compared to the same month in 2015.
Join us for networking and discussion of logistics innovation at Air Cargo World’s new ELEVATE 2016 Conference, Oct. 10, in Miami.