April 2024: Asia-Pacific Air Cargo Market Continues Upward Trend

The Asia-Pacific region’s air cargo market experienced robust growth in April 2024, driven by higher demand for consumer and intermediate goods, according to preliminary traffic figures released by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

As per AAPA’s data published on May 28, 2024, the international freight tonne kilometers (FTKs) in the month increased by 13.7% year-on-year. Despite this surge in demand, offered freight capacity expanded slightly more by 14.4%, resulting in a marginal 0.4 percentage point decline in the average load factor to 59.9%. This growth builds on the 10.2% increase in cargo FTKs observed in February, reflecting the positive impact of a reinvigorated manufacturing sector and continued e-commerce expansion. However, the growth in available capacity in April moderated from the 20.8% surge seen in February.

Subhas Menon, AAPA’s Director General, highlighted the encouraging 15% year-on-year increase in air cargo traffic volumes. He attributed this growth to the pick-up in global demand, which supported export activity from major manufacturing hubs in the region, particularly China. Menon expressed optimism for continued growth in the cargo and air passenger markets, buoyed by positive business and consumer confidence levels. Nevertheless, he acknowledged ongoing challenges such as supply chain constraints, higher operating costs, and geopolitical tensions.

Complementing AAPA’s report, IATA’s recent global air cargo market data shows a strong 11.1% annual growth in demand measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs). This marked the fifth consecutive month of double-digit year-on-year growth, underscoring the resilience and strength of the air cargo market. Capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), increased by 7.1% compared to April 2023.

IATA’s Director General, Willie Walsh emphasized that air cargo demand continued to grow despite economic uncertainties, with positive indicators such as the global manufacturing output and new export orders PMIs turning positive for the first time in two years. Industrial production also saw a modest increase of 1.6% year-on-year in March, while global cross-border trade experienced a slight contraction of 0.8%. Inflation remained relatively stable across major economies, providing a conducive environment for sustained growth in air cargo demand.

IATA”s report highlights how the Asia-Pacific region led the world in demand growth for air cargo in April, with a 14.0% year-on-year increase, marking the strongest performance among all regions. This was supported by a 13.2% growth within the Asia market and a 17.7% increase on the Asia-Europe route. Capacity in the region grew by 7.8% year-on-year, reflecting the ongoing expansion of available cargo space to meet rising demand.

Overall, the air cargo market in Asia-Pacific demonstrated significant momentum in April 2024, driven by strong demand and increased capacity. The positive outlook for the region’s air cargo and passenger markets suggests continued growth, albeit with potential challenges from supply chain issues and geopolitical tensions.

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