An industry report published by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently marked the global air cargo demand at pre-COVID levels, achieving a 32 year high, despite the operating challenges. The February 2022 statistics show a promising recovery of the air cargo industry, globally.
While the demand, in terms of cargo tonne-kilometres (CTK), augmented by 11.9 percent in comparison to February 2019, it rose up by 2.9 percent since February 2021. According to the report, the manufacturing surge during the Lunar New Year has been a major contributor to the intensified air cargo demand. Other factors included the general and progressive relaxation of COVID-19 travel curbs, increased flight operations after Omicron-related restrictions were relaxed (especially outside of Asia), and fewer winter weather operational disruptions.
Demand for air cargo continued to expand despite growing challenges in the trading environment.”Willy Walsh, Director General, IATA
Though the industry is currently joyous about the report, it should also be noted that to counter the exemplary performance in February 2022, there is also a dip anticipated for March 2022 in light of the ongoing Russia Ukraine war. The geopolitical situation has already resulted in a lot of loss in trade activity to and from the region, making a negative impact on the global economy. The IATA said that the war outcomes like spiralling fuel prices and sanctions against Russia (which ultimately affect the manufacturing and economic activity around the world) will take a toll on the air cargo industry.
The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) — an indicator of global new export orders — fell to 48.2 in March, the lowest since July 2020. This shows that a majority of surveyed businesses reported a fall in new export orders.
“Based on this, and based on the ongoing disruption to supply chains that we’re witnessing, we would expect to see the growth and very strong performance of cargo just begin to ease as we go through the next couple of months,” Walsh said, adding “And given that fuel represents the single biggest cost base of the industry, it averaged 27% over the 10 years up to 2019.”