Global air cargo demand continued its strong growth trend in September and remains above pre-Covid levels, according to the latest International Air Transport Association (IATA) data.
Measured in cargo tonne-kilometres, global demand rose 9.1 per cent compared to September 2019 (comparisons to 2020 are distorted by the impact of Covid-19). This was an improvement compared to the 7.5 per cent increase in August, but seasonally adjusted (SA) CTKs only increased marginally month-on-month.
Capacity remained constrained at 8.9 per cent below pre-Covid levels, better than the 12.7 per cent fall in August. IATA outlined the following factors as impacting air cargo demand:
- Supply chain disruptions and the resulting delivery delays leading to long supplier delivery times.
- The September new export orders component and manufacturing output component of the PMIs deteriorating from levels in the previous month.
- The inventory-to-sales ratio remaining low ahead of the peak year-end retail events such as Single’s Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
- The cost-competitiveness of air cargo relative to that of container shipping remaining favourable.
IATA’s director general Willie Walsh said: “There is a benefit from supply chain congestion as manufacturers turn to air transport for speed. But severe capacity constraints continue to limit the ability of air cargo to absorb extra demand. If not addressed, bottlenecks in the supply chain will slow the economic recovery from Covid-19. Governments must act to relieve pressure on the global supply chains and improve their overall resilience.”
IATA outlined three areas to relieve supply chain disruptions, and has called on governments to:
- Ensure that air crew operations are not hindered by Covid-19 restrictions designed for air travellers.
- Implement the commitments governments made at the ICAO High Level Conference on Covid-19 to restore international connectivity.
- Provide innovative policy incentives to address labour shortages where they exist.