* Oct air freight demand up 8.2 pct
* Demand driven by stronger economies, electronics launches
* Some demand shifts to air after collapse of shipper Hanjin
* 2017 also expected to see moderate pick-up (Adds comments from IATA economist)
GENEVA, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Demand for air freight rose 8.2 percent in October, the fastest rate of growth in 18 months and raising expectations for the usually busy end of the year, the International Air Transport Association said on Wednesday.
After a weak start to the year, demand for transporting goods via air has picked up, helped by economic growth and one-off factors such as the collapse of shipper Hanjin, IATA senior economist George Anjaparidze told reporters at an event in Geneva.
Companies that had been more cautious at the start of the year in terms of orders are now catching up, opting for the speed of air rather than sea freight.
“We’ve seen a stronger than expected peak coming into the fourth quarter,” Anjaparidze said, adding that shoppping events such as Black Friday and launches of smartphones that need to be delivered to customers quickly are also driving the air freight market.
He also predicts a moderate pick-up in growth in 2017, declining to be more specific.
However, IATA cautioned that while October was positive, it was too soon to speak of a sustained recovery for an industry that has battled falling profits and overcapacity over the last few years.
“It remains to be seen how long this growth trend will endure after the year-end peak period and we still face headwinds from weak global trade,” IATA director General Alexandre de Juniac said in a statement. (Reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Harro ten Wolde/Ruth Pitchford)