Global Air Cargo Tonnages Show Resilience Despite a 5% Y-o-Y contraction in 2023

In a comprehensive analysis of air cargo trends, WorldACD Market Data reports a 5% year-on-year contraction in global air cargo tonnages for the year 2023. The first half of the year witnessed a staggering 9% decline in tonnages compared to the previous year, while the second half showcased an encouraging trend, with each consecutive month improving Y-o-Y, ultimately closing flat when compared to 2022.

Preliminary data for the final week of 2023 reveals a surprising 5% increase in tonnages compared to December 2022. This growth was notably driven by positive performances in regions such as Asia Pacific – up 17% Y-o-Y, Middle East & South Asia -up 14% Y-o-Y, and Central & South America – up 7% Y-o-Y. The final two weeks of the year sustained this positive momentum, aligning with the Y-o-Y improvement observed in the previous month.

WorldACD’s earlier prediction proved accurate with the fourth quarter emerging as the only one in 2023 to demonstrate positive growth in tonnages, up by 3% compared to the same period in the previous year. This followed substantial Y-o-Y declines in the first three quarters.

Despite the contraction in tonnages, worldwide average rates stood at USD 2.49 per kilogram in week 52, marking an 18% decrease from the previous year. However, these rates remain significantly higher than pre-COVID levels, showing a remarkable 39% increase compared to December 2019.

Moreover, the overall available capacity in the air cargo industry grew by 8% compared to the previous year. Noteworthy increases were observed in specific regions, including a remarkable 19% growth in capacity ex-Asia Pacific. Other regions such as the Middle East & South Asia (up 9%), Africa (up 8%), North America (up 6%), Europe (up 5%), and Central & South America (up 1%) also contributed to the overall capacity expansion.

Looking ahead, WorldACD anticipates a potential shift from sea freight to air freight in the coming weeks. This expectation arises in response to recent disruptions in container shipping in the Red Sea, suggesting a possible strategic adjustment in cargo transportation methods.


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