IATA who are the worldwide trade association for airlines are advising that they reducing the growth predictions to 2% for 2019. This is almost a halving of their previous predictions.
There are a number of reasons for this decline. As will come a s no surprise the China / USA trade dispute initiated by Donald Trump has created a fundamental distortion in the market. Many companies built up stock through 2018 in order to avoid a 25% increase in duty rates into the USA.
As it turns out the 25% duty surcharge did not happen on 1 January 2019, though there is still the threat of implementation should USA / China talks stall.
Brexit is a further issue. The UK is the biggest European import market for China and importers in the UK are collectively holding their breath and not ordering until the confusion over Brexit is clarified.
Finally,Chinese economic growth seems to be stalling, with Chinese manufacturers looking to its domestic market for customers.
On the positive side interest rates are still very low and airfreight from China is now better value per kilo than ever before.
Looking back 5 years, in real terms airfreight to London from China or airfreight to Manchester from China is half the cost of what is was per kilo back in 2014.
The long term prospects for airfreight are still good though due to the rise and rise of e-commerce which more suits the use of airfreight due to the speed of import fulfillment.