Freight volumes improved in November but remain depressed compared to 2019, according to the latest figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Capacity remains constrained from the loss of available belly cargo space as passenger aircraft remain parked, the association said.
Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), was 6.6 per cent below previous-year levels in November (down 7.7 per cent for international operations). This was on par with the 6.2 per cent year-on-year drop in October, IATA noted.
The year-on-year decline is “skewed” as November 2019 had a boost in demand from the waning US-China trade war.
Seasonally adjusted demand (SA CTKs) continued to improve, according to IATA, increasing 1.6 per cent month-on-month in November. This was a slight improvement over the monthly growth rate of 1.1 per cent in October. IATA said current month-on-month gains indicate that SA CTKs will return to 2019 levels around March or April 2021.
Global capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), shrank by 20 per cent in November (21.3 per cent for international operations) compared to the previous year. “That is nearly three times larger than the contraction in demand,” IATA commented. “The capacity crunch is caused by a 53 per cent decrease in in belly capacity. This has only been partially offset by a 20 per cent increase in freighter capacity.”
Strong regional variations continued in November, with North American carriers reporting five per cent year-on-year gains in demand, while all other regions remained in negative territory compared to a year earlier.
IATA’s director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac commented: “Air cargo demand is still down 6.6 per cent compared to the previous year, however we are seeing continuing month-on-month improvements.
“Severe capacity constraints persist as large parts of the passenger fleet remain grounded. This will put pressure on the industry as it gears up to deliver vital Covid-19 vaccines.”