Amid Coronavirus crisis, Global air freight demand sink by 15.2%: IATA

Global air freight demands races to the bottom

The global air freight demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometres (CTKs), witnessed a major dip of 15.2% in March compared to the previous year (-15.8% for international markets), revealed The International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Even the global capacity, measured in available cargo tonne kilometers (ACTKs), shrank by 22.7% in March compared to the previous year (-24.6% for international markets).

The International markets which account for 87% of air cargo witnessed a crunch in Belly capacity for international air cargo by 43.7% in March as compared to the previous year. This was partially offset by a 6.2% increase in capacity through expanded use of freighter aircraft, including the use of idle passenger aircraft for all-cargo operations.

“At present, we don’t have enough capacity to meet the remaining demand for air cargo. Volumes fell by over 15% in March compared to the previous year. But capacity plummeted by almost 23%. The gap must be addressed quickly because vital supplies must get to where they are needed most. For example, there is a doubling of demand for pharmaceutical shipments that are critical to this crisis. With most of the passenger fleet sitting idle, airlines are doing their best to meet demand by adding freighter services, including adapting passenger aircraft to all-cargo activity. But mounting these special operations continues to face bureaucratic hurdles. Governments must cut the red tape needed to approve special flights and ensure safe and efficient facilitation of crew.”

~Alexandre de Juniac, Director General and CEO, IATA

Earlier this month, IATA called on governments to take immediate measures in ensuring that air cargo will be available to support the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

As per reports, the collapsing economy is expected to further depress overall cargo volumes. The lockdown caused due to the spread of the novel virus continued to contract the global manufacturing activity in March

Following the sharp decline in February – which exceeded that of the global financial crisis – the global manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose slightly in March but remained in contractionary territory. This improvement was due to the stabilization of the China PMI; excluding the China outcome, the global index fell to its lowest level since May 2009.

Looking at the prospects for the rest of 2020, the World Trade Organization forecast gives little indication of a quick recovery. If looked at the situation in an optimistic scenario the expected fall for 2020 in trade is 13%, while it is 32%in the pessimistic scenario. This will deeply impact air cargo’s prospects.

However, pharmaceutical shipments are growing in demand sharply, tracking at double previous-year volumes. This excludes shipments of medical equipment.

“The capacity crunch will, unfortunately, be a temporary problem. The recession will likely hit air cargo at least as severely as it does the rest of the economy. To keep the supply chain moving to meet what demand might exist, airlines must be financially viable. The need for financial relief for airlines by whatever means possible remains urgent,” said de Juniac.

In contrast to the global air freight demand, The demand for international air cargo in the Asia-Pacific airlines fall by 15.9% in March 2020, compared to the year-earlier period. Seasonally adjusted cargo demand fell by 3.0% compared to February 2020, to levels last seen in the third quarter of 2013. International capacity decreased 27.8%.

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