Global air cargo demand rose above pre-pandemic levels for the first time in eight months, but fell 7.5 per cent compared to February 2022, as measured in cargo tonne-kilometres.
That’s according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which noted that the February decline was half the rate seen in the previous two months (-14.9 per cent and -15.3 per cent respectively). Global demand in international operations fell 8.3 per cent in February.
February demand for air cargo was 2.9 per cent higher than pre-pandemic levels (February 2019).
Capacity (measured in available cargo tonne-kilometres) was up 8.6 per cent compared to February 2022. The strong uptick in ACTKs reflects the addition of belly capacity as the passenger side of the business continues to recover, IATA said. International belly-capacity grew by 57.0 per cent in February year-over-year, reaching 75.1 per cent of the 2019 (pre-pandemic) capacity.
IATA said several factors in the operating environment should be noted. “The global new export orders component of the manufacturing PMI, a leading indicator of cargo demand, continued to increase in February,” the association said. “China’s PMI level surpassed the critical 50-mark indicating that demand for manufactured goods from the world’s largest export economy is growing.”
IATA also reported that global goods trade decreased by 1.5 per cent in January; this was a slower rate of decline than the previous month of -3.3 per cent. The Consumer Price Index for G7 countries decreased from 6.7 per cent in January to 6.4 per cent in February, IATA added. Inflation in producer (input) prices reduced by 2.2 percentage points to 9.6 per cent in December (last available data).
“The story of air cargo in February is one of slowing declines. Year-on-year demand fell by 7.5 per cent. That’s half the rate of decline experienced in January,” said IATA’s director general Willie Walsh. “This shifting of gears was sufficient to boost the overall industry into positive territory (+2.9 per cent) compared to pre-pandemic levels. An optimistic eye could see the start of an improvement trend that leads to market stabilisation and a return to more normal demand patterns after dramatic ups-and-downs in recent years.”