"Normally the fourth quarter is a peak season for air cargo. So essentially flat growth in November is a big disappointment," Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, said in a press release.
November's unchanged year-over-year growth was air cargo's slowest growth rate since March 2016.
IATA named "significant headwinds" contributing to the flat growth. These include weak global economic activity and weakened consumer confidence compared to early 2018. Juniac called trade tensions, such as tariffs, "cause for great concern."
Trade tensions' impact on air cargo was particularly evident among Asia-Pacific airlines. Demand for air cargo on these airlines shrank 2.3% year-over-year in November 2018. The airlines still recorded a 3.9% increase for 2018, according to the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA), but with a significant slowdown near the end of the year.