The International Air Transport Association's (IATA) full-year 2017 data for global airfreight markets showed that demand, measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTK), grew by 9 percent.
The result for 2017 was more than double the 3.6 percent annual growth recorded in 2016, and the year's strong performance was sealed by a solid result in December, which saw demand growth increase by 5.7 percent year-on-year.
Meanwhile, freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometres, rose by 3 percent in 2017 - the slowest annual capacity growth seen since 2012.
"We saw improvements in load factors, yields and revenues," explained Alexandre de Juniac, IATA's director general and ceo. "Air cargo is still a very tough and competitive business, but the developments in 2017 were the most positive that we have seen in a very long time."
African carriers experienced the fastest growth rate of all regions, with an annual growth in freight demand of 24.8 percent in 2017. European airlines posted the second fastest growth rate of 11.8 percent, followed by Middle Eastern carriers, which saw an annual increase in demand of 8.1 percent.
"The outlook for airfreight in 2018 is optimistic," added de Juniac. "Overall the pace of growth is expected to slow from the exceptional 9 percent of this year. But we still expect a very healthy 4.5 percent expansion of demand in 2018."