Air cargo demand is strengthening but remains depressed compared to 2019 levels, according to the latest figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometres (CTKs), was eight per cent below year-before levels in September (-9.9 per cent for international operations). That represents an improvement from the 12.1 per cent year-on-year drop recorded in August. Month-on-month demand grew by 3.7 per cent in September.
Global capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometres (ACTKs), fell 25.2 per cent in September (-28 per cent for international operations) compared to the previous year. That is nearly three times larger than the contraction in demand, IATA said, “indicating a severe lack of capacity in the market”.
Strong regional variations are emerging, according to IATA. North American and African carriers reported respective year-on-year gains in demand of 1.5 and 9.7 per cent. All other regions remained in negative territory compared to a year earlier.
“Air cargo volumes are down on 2019, but they are a world apart from the extreme difficulties in the passenger business,” said IATA’s director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac.
“For air cargo, 92 per cent of the business is still there, whereas about 90% of international passenger traffic has disappeared. Favourable indicators for the peak year-end season will support the continued recovery in demand.
“Already North American and African carriers are reporting demand gains on 2019. The challenge continues to be on capacity. As carriers adjust schedules to reflect falling passenger demand amid the resurgence of Covid-19, valuable belly capacity will be lost when it is needed the most.”