Global demand for air cargo weakens

IATA figures show that global air cargo demand decreased in September 2022 compared to the prior year period.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released today (November 7) data for global air cargo markets for September 2022 showing that demand for air cargo has softened.

Global demand, measured in freight tonne-kilometres (CTKs), fell by 10,6% compared to September 2021 (-10,6% also for international operations), but remained close to pre-pandemic levels (-3,6%).

Capacity was 2,4% above September 2021 (+5,0% for international operations), but still 7,4% below September 2019 levels (-8,1% for international operations ), IATA said.

“While air cargo activity continues close to 2019 levels, volumes remain below the exceptional performance of 2021 as the industry faces some headwinds,” said Willie Walsh, IATA Director General.

“At the consumer level, with travel restrictions lifted after the pandemic, people are likely to spend more on holiday travel and less on e-commerce. And at the macro level, rising recession warnings are likely to have a negative impact on global flows of goods and services, slightly offset by a stabilization in oil prices. In this context, air cargo is holding up well. And a strategic slowdown in capacity growth from 6,3% in August to 2,4% in September demonstrates the flexibility the industry has to adapt to economic developments.”

Looking at regional performance, Asia-Pacific airlines saw their air cargo volumes decline by 10,7% in September 2022 compared to the same month in 2021. This was a decline in performance compared to August ( -8,3%). Airlines in the region continue to be affected by the conflict in Ukraine, labor shortages and lower levels of commercial and manufacturing activity due to Omicron-related restrictions in China. Available capacity in the region increased by 2,8% compared to 2021.

North American carriers posted a 6% decline in cargo volumes in September 2022 compared to the same month in 2021. This was a decline in performance compared to August (3,4%). Capacity increased by 4,6% compared to September 2021.

European carriers saw a 15,6% decline in cargo volumes in September 2022 compared to the same month in 2021. This was on par with the performance in August (-15,1%). This is attributable to the war in Ukraine. Labor shortages and high levels of inflation, especially in Turkey, also affected volumes. Capacity increased 0,2% in September 2022 compared to September 2021.

Middle Eastern carriers experienced a 15,8% year-over-year decline in cargo volumes in September 2022. This was the worst performance of any region and a significant decline compared to the previous month (-11,3%) . Stagnant cargo volumes to/from Europe weighed on the region's performance. Capacity decreased by 2,8% compared to September 2021.

Latin American carriers reported a 10,8% increase in cargo volumes in September 2022 compared to September 2021. This was the strongest performance of any region. Airlines in this region have been optimistic about introducing new services and capacity and, in some cases, investing in additional aircraft for air cargo in the coming months. Capacity in September increased by 18,4% compared to the same month in 2021.

African airlines saw cargo volumes increase by 0,1% in September 2022 compared to September 2021. This was a slight decline from the growth recorded the previous month (1,0%). Capacity was 4,1% below September 2021 levels.

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