Cargo Traffic Drops On Oil Price Effect

June 29, 2005

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International air cargo traffic dropped 1.6 percent in May over the same month last year in a sign of the mounting effect of high oil prices on the world economy, the airline body IATA said on Wednesday.

"May cargo growth slipped into negative territory in Asia, North America, Latin America and Europe, following a sluggish performance since the beginning of 2005," International Air Transport Association Director General Giovanni Bisignani said in a statement.

"As a leading economic indicator, the slowdown in cargo traffic demonstrates that the high price of oil is slowing the global economy faster than expected," he said.

Nearly 50 percent of traded goods by value are carried by air, and trade analysts say the May drop in cargo volume -- leaving overall growth for the first five months at only 3.1 percent -- suggested that overall global trade is slowing.

Trade recovered last year to increase by 9 percent following three years of low or even negative growth. But in April the World Trade Organization (WTO) said it was likely to grow by only 6.5 percent this year at best.

Bisignani said passengers carried on IATA's 265 member airlines, which cover 94 percent of all international traffic, increased by 8.8 percent in May, and by 8.7 percent over 2004 over the January-May period.

But passenger travel could also be expected to start dropping "as the decline in economic activity works its way through the economy", he declared.