2022 air cargo demand down from 2021, but closer to 2019

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International Air Transport Association (IATA) numbers for air cargo demand and air cargo capacity (2022) were published recently, indicating a considerable fall in comparison to 2021, however, closer to those from 2019. The global full-year demand in 2022 reduced by 8% compared to 2021, dropping 8.2% for international operations. Compared to 2019, it was down 1.6% (both global and international). On the other hand, the capacity was 3% more than 2021 (up 4.5% for international operations) and down by 8.2% than 2019 (9% for international operations).

“In the face of significant political and economic uncertainties, air cargo performance declined compared to the extraordinary levels of 2021. That brought air cargo demand to 1.6% below 2019 (pre-pandemic) levels. The continuing measures by key governments to fight inflation by cooling economies are expected to result in a further decline in cargo volumes in 2023 to -5.6% compared to 2019.”

Willie Walsh, IATA Director General

IATA’s data also showed that December saw a softening in performance. Global demand was 15.3% below 2021 levels (down 15.8 % for international operations). Monthly cargo demand tracked below 2021 levels from March 2022. Global capacity was 2.2% 2021 levels (0.5% for international operations). This was the tenth consecutive monthly contraction compared to 2021 performance, IATA said.

Walsh said that the cooling measures by governments to fight inflation will take time to bite into cargo rates, which means that the average yields and total revenue for 2023 should remain well above what they were pre-pandemic.

Source: IATA

As expected, 2022 ended with mixed signals. Global new export orders, a leading indicator of cargo demand, have stayed at the same level since October. For major economies, new export orders are shrinking except in Germany, the US, and Japan, where they grew. Global goods trade decreased by 1.5 per cent in November, down from a 3.4 per cent increase in October.

For the G7 countries consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, inflation was tracked at 6.8% in December, slightly lower than the years’s highest at 7.4% in November 2022.