After bottoming out in October 2012, global air cargo volumes rebounded by about 3.5 percent over the next three months.
Those gains have now been largely erased.
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), air cargo volumes this past March were only 1.5 percent higher than they were in October 2012. The year-over-year figures are not promising either, as the IATA recorded a 2.3 percent drop.
So how much concern should there be about a prolonged period of stagnancy?
"The fundamentals for a sustained improvement in air cargo volumes are in place," Tony Tyler, the director general and CEO of the IATA, said in a statement. "Business confidence continues to signal forthcoming expansion, and the solid increase in new export orders seen in 2013 should boost airfreight in the coming months."
While Tyler did cite "the impact of U.S. budget cuts" on the declining market, he was reluctant to estimate their full impact.
That picture should come into focus in the coming months, possibly revealing even greater losses.
For all of last week, planes transporting both passengers and air cargo faced crushing delays as a result of airport staff furloughs. The FAA had been forced to take those measures, it said, because of sequestration cuts. Last Wednesday alone, nearly 900 flights were delayed because of staff shortages.
As concerns about operational shortfalls climb, freight forwarders, shippers, and any parties that rely on supply chain efficiency need to insulate themselves. CargoSnapshot has proven its value as a solution that expedites the shipping process and protects facilities from false freight claims.
If stakeholders do their part to improve efficiency, the decline in air cargo volume will remain merely a "temporary stall," as Tyler suggested.