International Air Cargo falls 13.5%

Largest decline since 2001 in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

International cargo traffic dropped 13.5 percent in November, according to the International Air Transport Association.

Airlines did not anticipate the huge downturn and had cut their international capacity only 1 percent.

“The 13.5 percent drop in international cargo is shocking,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s director general and CEO. “As air cargo handles 35 percent of the value of goods traded internationally, it clearly shows the rapid fall in global trade and the broadening impact of the economic slowdown.”

Bisignani said he expects deep losses in the fourth quarter.

Asia-Pacific carriers were hardest hit with a 16.9 percent decline in traffic. Asia-Pacific carriers hauled 44.6 percent of global freight, and freight accounts for a larger percentage of revenue for them. Profits in the region will be heavily affected in the fourth quarter.

Latin America, North America and Europe also saw double-digit freight declines. Freight traffic in the Middle East went negative for the first time after very small growth in October. While African carriers were the only ones to show any growth in November, the 2.2 percent up-tick was lower than the 3 percent growth in October.

“With no end in sight for the worsening global economy, the 2008 gloom will carry over into the new year,” said Bisignani.

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