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GENEVA/ISTANBUL: August 07, 2019. IATA members have reported another drop in air cargo business as industry freight tonne-kilometres fell 4.8 percent in June – the eighth consecutive month of no growth – as capacity rose 2.6 percent and the overall load factor fell 3.5 percent.

The weakness in airfreight volumes compared with a year ago remains broad-based across regions, with the largest falls coming from the Middle East and Asia Pacific, says IATA. Africa was the only region to produce year-on-year growth as international traffic rose 4.3 percent in June.

New Istanbul AirportIATA cites the impact of the US-China trade dispute as US goods exports to China fell 18 percent, compared with the first half of 2018, while goods imports from China are down more than 12 percent.

“Widespread declines are also evident for the Middle East, with cargo volumes for the Europe and Asia Pacific markets down by 7.2 percent and 6.5 percent respectively year-on-year,” according to IATA’s economic report for the month.

Despite the trend, FIATA senior vice president Turgut Erkeskin thinks the “tide is turning” for Turkey in the Middle East region because of the country's location as a hub between East and West, combined with the country’s significant infrastructure investments.

“In the long term, we are positioning ourselves as a powerful hub in the Mediterranean, a gateway to the North Africa – South East Europe, Middle East and a logistics hub for China as part of the new Silk Road, for which we can play a major role in the central corridor with our close connections to the Caucasus,” he declared.

Erkeskin said China’s Sinotrans is investing in Turkey’s port infrastructure and is currently looking for areas to develop logistics and industrial parks. He also noted the strategic importance of Istanbul's new airport which, “despite its gigantic dimensions, we expect the airport to be too small rather than too large in the long term”.

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