Demand for air cargo is coming back but lack of capacity remains, reports IATA in October update

IATA Alexandre de Juniac, cash

Air cargo demand continued to improve in October but at a slower pace than the previous month and remains below previous year levels, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometres (CTKs), was 6.2 per cent below previous-year levels in October (-7.5 per cent for international operations). That is an improvement from the 7.8 per cent year-on-year drop recorded in September, IATA said. However, the pace of recovery in October was slower than in September with month-on-month demand growing 4.1 per cent (1.1 per cent for international).


Global capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometres (ACTKs), fell by 22.6 per cent in October (24.8 per cent for international operations) compared to the previous year. That is nearly four times larger than the contraction in demand, IATA said, “indicating the continuing and severe capacity crunch”.

IATA October 1
Source: IATA. Click to enlarge.
IATA October 2
International belly cargo and freighter capacity growth. Click to enlarge.

“Demand for air cargo is coming back – a trend we see continuing into the fourth quarter,” commented IATA’s director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac. “The biggest problem for air cargo is the lack of capacity as much of the passenger fleet remains grounded.”

He noted that the end of the year was traditionally peak season for air cargo. “That will likely be exaggerated with shoppers relying on e-commerce – 80 per cent of which is delivered by air. So the capacity crunch from the grounded aircraft will hit particularly hard in the closing months of 2020. And the situation will become even more critical as we search for capacity for the impending vaccine deliveries.”

Strong regional variations continue with North American and African carriers reporting year-on-year gains in demand in October (6.2 per cent and 2.2 per cent respectively), while all other regions remained in negative territory compared to a year earlier.

IATA October 3
US e-commerce, % year-on-year. Click to enlarge.
IATA October 4
International CTK growth. Click to enlarge.

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