Continuing an impressive return to growth, the final global air freight numbers have been released by the International Air Transport Association and while the results shouldn't cause outright celebration or over-confidence they should help to cement the overall sense of positive expectations within the industry as 2015 gets into full flight.
The global economic climate remains somewhat unsettled but with the exception of Europe which is seeing some jittery economic waters, most of the global markets for air freight are seeing a relatively solid set of economic indicators for the year ahead. That health translates in general terms to the US marketplace where most employment, productivity, consumer demand and GDP results all point towards 2015 being an encouraging year for business.
The IATA data shows that Global Air Cargo grew by a strong 4.5 percent in 2014 the best composite numbers seen in years. Wide regional variations are once again observed with the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions performing most encouragingly. North American air cargo growth wasn't outstanding but followed the general upward trend throughout the course of the year particularly in the second half of 2014 and despite lukewarm numbers there was also growth in Europe. Only South America ended the year on a downward note with a 4.5 percent decline seen in December.
Air Cargo revenues aren't as impressive as the volume results however with the overall global total still residing about 8 percent lower than the peak levels that were reached in 2011. The first quarter of 2015 will be very interesting to watch, underpinned by still depressed fuel prices and a revised GDP projection that has been pulled back slightly in recent days due to the global strength of the US dollar which negatively impacts the export market. Continued growth in the trade gap could fuel nervous times for certain companies but the impact that might have on the North American air freight market remains to be seen.