GENEVA (Reuters) - The global air cargo market is set to extend its slow recovery unless a fresh blow to confidence from the euro zone reverses the trend, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Tuesday.
IATA said global freight demand grew by 2.0 percent year-on-year in February, after adjusting for calendar effects.
"This is welcome news after two consecutive years of contraction," IATA chief executive Tony Tyler said in a statement.
"It is even better news that this growth is expected to pick up moderately as the year progresses. But improvements cannot be taken for granted. Events in Cyprus have reminded us that the euro zone crisis is far from over."
IATA said official data showed a 6.2 percent decline in cargo traffic in February, but that was severely skewed by the Leap Year in 2012 and by the shifting date of the Asian Lunar New Year, traditionally a time of factory closures in China.
However, thinner volume was not matched by an equal cut in capacity, meaning that planes flew with more empty cargo space than in January. Cargo capacity use was 0.8 percent lower in February than in the previous month, IATA said.
Business confidence surveys suggest air freight demand will gain from an increase in manufacturing activity in the months ahead, but similar predictions in 2011 and 2012 were undone by intensifying problems in the euro zone, and the same risk looms over the latest signs of recovery, IATA said.
(Reporting by Tom Miles; editing by Mike Collett-White)