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GENEVA: January 19, 2017. In its latest quarterly survey of airline CFOs and heads of cargo this month, IATA said 18 percent of respondents reported an annual increase in freight yields in Q4 2016 - the highest share in two years - due to a strong 2016 peak season boosting demand on certain routes.

Some 52 percent of respondents reported an annual increase in cargo volumes although they said profitability remained unchanged year-on-year. Some 39 percent noted an increase in profits, while the same number reported a decrease.

Ethiopian freightHowever in what used to be a concern with freighter aircraft operations, cargo managers said the addition of more passenger aircraft, and a subsequent increase in bellyhold capacity, is likely to have a negative effect on freight yields for the next 12 months.

Over 90 percent of respondents expect cargo yields to remain unchanged or to fall further over the year ahead, according to the survey.

Meanwhile Ethiopian Airlines, the largest IATA cargo carrier in Africa, is planning to begin services to Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe), Antananarivo (Madagascar), Conakry, Oslo, Chengdu, Jakarta and Singapore between February and June this year.

"Looking beyond the current economic slowdown, especially in the oil export-dependent economies of Africa, we firmly believe that the continent will become the magnet for foreign direct investment, trade and tourism," said airline CEO Tewolde GebreMariam. "These are the engines of air travel growth and in turn efficient air connectivity also drives socio-economic development and we are happy to contribute our share in the 21st Century African Transformation," he added.

According to IATA, the results of its latest survey suggest the profitability cycle has weakened and the airline operating environment has become "more challenging since mid-2016, with fuel prices trending higher but yields continuing to trend downwards".

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