IATA’s global air
cargo data for July 2023 shows that demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers
(CTK), during the month was tracking just 0.8%
below July 2022 levels (-0.4% for
international operations), a significant improvement on
the previous month’s performance of -3.4%.
Capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers
(ACTK), was up 11.2% when compared to July 2022 (10.8% for
international operations). The strong uptick in ACTKs reflects the
29.3% year-on-year growth in belly capacity.
Several factors in the operating environment
should be noted:
- In July, both the manufacturing output Purchasing
Managers Index or PMI (49) and new export orders PMI (46.4) were
below the critical threshold represented by the 50 mark,
indicating a decline in global manufacturing production and
- Global cross-border trade contracted for the third
month in a row in June, decreasing 2.5% y-o-y, reflecting
the cooling demand environment and challenging macroeconomic
conditions. The difference between the annual growth rates of air
cargo and the global goods trade narrowed to -0.8 percentage
points in June. While air cargo growth is still lagging world
trade, the gap is the narrowest since January 2022.
- In July, the global supplier delivery time PMI was
51.9, signaling fewer supply chain delays. All major economies,
except China, had PMIs above 50. The US, Europe and Japan
recorded PMIs of 54.2, 57.7, and 50.4, respectively.
- Inflation saw a mixed picture in July, with the
increase in US consumer prices picking up pace for the first time
in 13 months. Meanwhile, in China, both consumer and producer
prices fell, pointing to a possible deflationary economy.
“Compared to July 2022, demand for air cargo was
basically flat. Considering we were 3.4% below 2022 levels in
June, that’s a significant improvement and it continues a trend of
strengthening demand that began in February. How this trend will
evolve in the coming months will be something to watch carefully,”
said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General. “Many fundamental
drivers of air cargo demand, such as trade volumes and export
orders, remain weak or are deteriorating and there are growing
concerns over how China’s economy is developing. At the same time,
we are seeing shorter delivery times, which is normally a sign of
increasing economic activity. Amid these mixed signals,
strengthening demand gives us good reason to be cautiously
Asia-Pacific airlines saw their air cargo volumes
increase by 2.7% in July 2023 compared to the same month in 2022, a significant improvement in performance compared to June
(-3.3%). Carriers in the region benefited from growth on three
major trade lanes: Europe-Asia (3.2% y-o-y growth), Middle
East-Asia (up from 1.8% in June to 6.6% in July), and Africa-Asia
(returning to double-digit growth of 10.3% y-o-y from -4.8%
in June). Additionally, the within-Asia trade lane also performed
considerably better in July, with an annual decline of
international CTKs at 7.5% compared with the double-digit
decreases observed since September 2022. Available capacity in the
region increased by 26% compared to July 2022 as more belly
capacity came online from the passenger side of the business.
North American carriers posted the weakest
performance of all regions, with a 5.2% decrease in cargo volumes
in July 2023 compared to the same month in 2022, marking the fifth
consecutive month in which the region had the weakest performance.
It was, however, a slight improvement compared to June (-5.9%).
The transatlantic route between North America and Europe saw
traffic declining by 4.3% in July, 1.2 percentage points worse
than the previous month. Capacity increased 0.5% compared to July
European carriers saw air cargo volumes
decline by 1.5% in July compared to the same month in 2022. This
was, however, an improvement in performance versus June (-3.2%).
Volumes were affected due to the aforementioned Europe–North
America performance and contractions in the Middle East-Europe
(-1.2%) and the within-Europe (-5.1%) markets. Capacity increased
5.3% in July 2023 compared to July 2022.
Middle Eastern carriers experienced a 1.5%
y-o-y increase in cargo volumes in July 2023. This was also
an improvement to the previous month’s performance (0.6%). The
demand on Middle East–Asia routes has been trending upward in the
past two months. Capacity increased 17.1% compared to July 2022.
Latin American carriers posted a 0.4% increase in
cargo volumes compared to July 2022. This was a drop in
performance compared to the previous month (2.2%). Capacity in
July was up 10% compared to the same month in 2022.
African airlines had the strongest performance in
July 2023, with a 2.9% increase in cargo volumes compared to July
2022. Notably, Africa–Asia routes experienced significant cargo
demand growth (10.3%). Capacity was 11% above July 2022 levels.
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