As per the September data released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for global air freight markets: air cargo demand, while strengthening, remains depressed compared to 2019 levels.
Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs*), was 8% below previous-year levels in September (-9.9% for international operations). That is an improvement from the 12.1% year-on-year drop recorded in August. Month-on-month demand grew by 3.7% in September.
Global capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), declined by 25.2% in September (‑28% for international operations) compared to the previous year. That is nearly three times larger than the contraction in demand, indicating a severe lack of capacity in the market.
Strong regional variations are emerging with North American and African carriers reporting year-on-year gains in demand (+1.5% and +9.7% respectively), while all other regions remained in negative territory compared to a year earlier.
Improving performance is aligned with improvements in key economic indicators;
- The new export orders component of the manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index rose above the 50-mark, indicating growth, for the first time since mid-2018;
- The World Trade Organization revised their 2020 trade growth forecast from -12.9% to -9.2%;
“Air cargo volumes are down on 2019, but they are a world apart from the extreme difficulties in the passenger business. For air cargo, 92% of the business is still there, whereas about 90% of international passenger traffic has disappeared. Favorable indicators for the peak year-end season will support the continued recovery in demand. Already North American and African carriers are reporting demand gains on 2019. The challenge continues to be on capacity. As carriers adjust schedules to reflect falling passenger demand amid the resurgence of COVID-19, valuable belly capacity will be lost when it is needed the most.”~Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO
September Regional Performance
Asia-Pacific airlines recorded the demand for international air cargo fall 14.6% in September 2020 compared to the same month a year earlier. This was an improvement from the 16.4% fall in August 2020. Demand on routes between Asia–North America and Asia–Africa were strongest. International capacity remained constrained in the region, down 32%, despite airlines adding more capacity on many routes.