Global air cargo markets data for September 2023 released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) shows continuing demand recovery.
Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general, said: “Air cargo eked out modest growth (1.9 per cent) in September despite falling trade volumes and high jet fuel prices. That clearly shows the strength of air cargo’s value proposition.”
It was recorded that global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometres (CTKs), increased by 1.9 per cent compared to September 2022 levels (+1.6 per cent for international operations).
For capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometres (ACTK), figures show a 12.1 per cent increase compared to September 2022 (+11.0 per cent for international operations). IATA states that growth was largely related to international belly capacity which rose 31.5 per cent year-on-year as airlines scaled up operations to meet peak-northern summer travel season demand.
IATA reports there are several factors influencing the operating environment, including – for September – both the manufacturing output Purchasing Managers Index or PMI (49.7) and new export orders PMI (47.7) saw a slight improvement to the previous month. However, they remained below the critical 50-point threshold, indicating a continuing, but slightly slower, annual decline in global manufacturing production and exports.
IATA also states that the annual growth in US consumer prices stabilised in September at 3.7 per cent, the same rate as in August. In Europe and Japan, consumer price inflation slowed by 1.0 and 0.2 percentage points, respectively, to 4.9 per cent and 3.0 per cent, (also respectively). In China, deflation-fighting policy measures saw an annual rise in consumer prices of 0.1 per cent.
For September, IATA reports that the average price of jet fuel was USD 131.0 per barrel, marking a 43.1 per cent increase from the May 2023 price. Recouping some of this added cost from surcharges in September contributed to the first increase in air cargo yields since November 2022.
Walsh added: “With the key export order and manufacturing PMIs hovering near positive territory, we can be cautiously optimistic for a strong year-end peak season.”
When looking at regional performance for the period, Middle Eastern carriers had the strongest performance in September 2023, with a 2.5 per cent year-on-year increase in cargo volumes. This was an improvement from the previous month’s performance (+1.3 per cent). Carriers in the region benefited from growth in the Middle East–Asia (+7.0 per cent) and Middle East–Europe markets (+3.3 per cent). Capacity increased 16.1 per cent compared to September 2022.
North American carriers recorded the weakest performance in September, with a 2.2 per cent decrease in cargo volumes, a decline in performance compared to August (-1.4 per cent). Although contractions in the North America-Asia trade lane narrowed (from -4.3 per cent in August to -1.8 pre cent in September) and the North America-Europe market stabilised its decline at (-2.5 per cent) for the second month in a row. Carriers in the region did not benefit significantly. Capacity increased moderately by 0.2 per cent compared to September 2022.
Asia-Pacific airlines saw their air cargo volumes increase by 7.7 per cent in September 2023 compared to the same month in 2022. This was a significant improvement in performance compared to August (+4.6 per cent). Carriers in the region benefited from growth on three major trade lanes: Europe-Asia (+9.6 per cent), Middle East-Asia (+7.0 per cent) and Africa-Asia (+12.8 per cent). Available capacity for the region’s airlines increased by 30.5 per cent compared to September 2022 as more belly capacity came online from the passenger side of the business (a year ago, the key Asian markets of Japan and China were still largely under severe Covid-19 travel restrictions).
Air cargo volumes for European carriers declined by 1.5 per cent in September compared to the same month in 2022. This was a weaker performance than in August (-0.6 per cent). Carriers in the region suffered from further contractions in the within Europe market (-5.7 per cent in September vs -5.2 per cent in August). Gains made from the expansion in the Middle East-Europe trade lane (+3.3 per cent in September vs +0.5 per cent in August) offset some declines from the within Europe performance. Capacity increased 4.7 per cent in September 2023 compared to 2022.
A 2.3 per cent increase in cargo volumes compared to September 2022 was recorded for Latin American carriers; a significant decrease in performance compared to the previous month (+6.2 per cent). Capacity in September was up 14.4 per cent compared to the same month in 2022.
Air cargo volumes for African airlines declined by 0.1 per cent in September 2023, despite the strong growth of demand on the Africa-Asia trade lane (+12.8 per cent). This was an improvement in performance compared to August (-3.5 per cent). Capacity was 2.7 per cent above September 2022 levels.
The full ‘Air Cargo Market Analysis’ for September 2023 can be found on the IATA website.
READ MORE NEWS: Swissport International joins IATA’s ‘Focus Africa’ initiative