BI and data visualization uncover Australia?s airfreight trends

Come fly with me; let’s fly; fly away…

Yellowfin gives data visualization wings. So let’s go for a ride, with data representing Australia’s international airline activity, courtesy of the Australian government’s Department of Infrastructure and Transport.

Australia’s total airfreight exports


Singapore is the biggest recipient of Australian airfreight exports. Sound strange? Well that’s probably because it’s wrong. We think. Let me explain. This data set only shows the first point of contact for freight after leaving Australia. Therefore, the figures for Europe are likely to be not quite right, with Singapore a popular stop-over/transfer destination. However, there are direct flights from Australia to most other destinations, so chances are, the sheep loving New Zealanders, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates and USA are major recipients of Aussie goods.

Australia’s total airfreight imports



Once again, Singapore, New Zealand and the USA top the list of major importers to Australia. However, with the exception of New Zealand, Australia has a considerable net export deficit; even in comparison to its chief importers.

Australia’s net airfreight export

Overall, Australia imports far more than it exports.


Australia’s trading relationship with the USA is heavily imbalanced in this respect. Australia also exports far less freight than it receives from Asian heavyweights Malaysia, Hong Kong and China.

There are only a handful of countries with which Australia has a positive net export relationship, with Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand topping the list, followed by the micro Pacific island state of Papua New Guinea.

A note on data visualization: You might think that representing Australia’s net airfreight exports (2004 – 2010) on a bar chart, instead of a fancy world map, is lazy or uninspiring.

But, as noted in our – Top 13 Business Intelligence trends for 2011 – blog, as user adoption increases, and more business people from less technical backgrounds attempt to harness the power of data analysis, the visual representations of that data analysis must become increasingly intuitive to ensure that crucial information is interpreted accurately.

Total Australian airfreight traffic

There a two discernable trends in Australian airfreight imports between 2004 and 2010.


Firstly, there appears to be a steady increase in inbound airfreight traffic. But that’s to be expected; accompanying predictable economic growth.

The second trend is far more interesting. Regular peaks and troughs in total imports appear to coincide with Christmas and high holiday season consumer demand. Buyers stock-up in preparation for the compulsory Christmas rush, reduce their orders post-holiday season as they frantically offload excess product, then quickly buy-up again as stock levels dwindle.

Lastly, the impact of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) is clearly evidenced at the end of 2008, as Australian consumers and industry tightened their belts and demand plummeted, with total airfreight imports quickly following suit.

In contrast, total airfreight exports over the same period are surprisingly stagnant, only dipping slightly in response to the GFC.

Conclusion: Like what you see?

Like what you see? Simply contact Yellowfin and find out how we can help your business harness the power of data visualizations to provide insightful and actionable business insights. Yellowfin; making data visualization easy.

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