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Wed, 4 October 2023

IATA Reports First Annual Global Air Cargo Demand Growth Since February 2022

(04/10/23)  IATA's global air cargo market data for August 2023 shows that year-on-year demand grew for the first time in 19 months.

Measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTK), global air cargo demand increased by 1.5% compared to August 2022 levels and by 1.2% for international operations.

Capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTK), was up 12.2% compared to August 2022 and 11.8% for international operations, largely thanks to belly capacity rising 30% year-on-year as airlines ramped-up operations to meet peak-northern summer travel season demand.

IATA states that several factors in the operating environment should be noted:

- In August, both the manufacturing output Purchasing Managers Index or PMI (49.4) and new export orders PMI (47) saw a slight improvement to the previous month. They remained, however, below the critical threshold represented by the 50 mark, indicating a continuing, if slower, annual decline in global manufacturing production and exports.

UPS Boeing 747F preparing to land at HKG in April 2012. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com Click to enlarge.
UPS Boeing 747F preparing to land at HKG in April 2012. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com

- Global cross-border trade contracted for the fourth month in a row in July, decreasing 3.2% year-on-year, reflecting the cooling demand environment and general macroeconomic conditions.

- Inflation saw a mixed picture in August, with an increase in US consumer prices for the second month in a row. Meanwhile in Europe and Japan, consumer and producer prices fell. In China, which is fighting deflationary pressures, consumer prices rose.

“Air cargo demand grew by 1.5% over the previous August. This is the first year-on-year growth in 19 months, so it is certainly welcome news. But it is off a low 2022 base and market signals are mixed,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General. “Looking ahead, while many uncertainties remain, we can take some optimism from PMI data moving towards positive territory. This is particularly significant as we head into air cargo’s traditional peak year-end season.”

Asia-Pacific airlines saw their air cargo volumes increase by 4.9% in August 2023 compared to the same month in 2022. This was a significant improvement in performance compared to July (+2.3%). Carriers in the region benefited from growth on two major trade lanes: Europe-Asia (up from 3.1% in July to 8.8% in August) and Middle East-Asia (up from 2.7% in July to 3.5% in August). Additionally, the within-Asia trade lane also performed better in August, with international CTKs contracting by 4.7% compared to the 9.7% annual decline in July. Available capacity for the region’s airlines increased by 28.5% compared to August 2022 as more belly capacity came online from the passenger side of the business.

North American carriers saw their air cargo volumes decrease by 1.2%. This was an improvement in performance compared to July (-5.4%). Carriers in the region benefitted from a slight improvement in growth on two major trade lanes: North America – Europe (2.9% annual contraction in August,1.2 percentage points better than in July) and Asia - North America (declined 4.2% in August compared to 4.4% decrease in July). Capacity increased 2.7% compared to August 2022.

European carriers saw their air cargo volumes decline by 0.2% in August compared to the same month in 2022. This was, however, an improvement in performance versus July (-1.0%). Volumes saw an increase due to the aforementioned Europe - Asia performance and a small increase in the Middle East - Europe markets by 0.4%. Capacity increased 3.6% in August 2023 compared to 2022.

Middle Eastern carriers experienced a 1.4% year-on-year increase in cargo volumes in August 2023, an improvement from the previous month’s performance (-0.1%). The demand on the Middle East–Asia market has been trending upwards in the past three months, expanding year-on-year growth from 1.8% in June to 3.5% in August. Capacity increased 15.7% compared to August 2022.

Latin American carriers had the strongest performance in August 2023, with a 6.2% increase in cargo volumes compared to August 2022, a significant increase in performance compared to the previous month (+0.5%). Capacity in August was up 13.7% compared to the same month in 2022.

African airlines had the weakest performance in August 2023, with a 4.7% decline in cargo volumes compared to August 2022, a significant decrease in performance compared to July (+2.3%). Notably, Africa-Asia routes declined by 1.1% in August following an 11.2% growth in July. Capacity was 3.8% above August 2022 levels.

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