The International Air Transport Association (IATA) via its recent report informed that, the global air freight demand dropped by 27.7% in the month of April as compared to the same period in 2019 – the sharpest fall ever recorded. Despite this, there is insufficient capacity to meet demand as a result of the loss of belly cargo operations on passenger aircraft.
However, the report suggested that due to the rise in movement of personal protective equipment (PPE), the large Asia-North America market recorded less of a decline (7.3%) as compared to international capacity which decreased by 42.5%. North American carriers, on the other hand, reported a fall in international demand of 20.1% year-on-year in April. This was the smallest contraction of all regions. While still a significant drop, it remains less than the decline seen at the height of the Global Financial Crisis in April 2009 (-32.3%).
“There is a severe capacity crunch in air cargo. Demand fell by 27.7% compared to April 2019. But capacity was down 42% because of the sharp cuts in passenger operations which also carry cargo. The result is damaging global supply chains with longer shipping times and higher costs. Airlines are deploying as much capacity as possible, including special charter operations and the temporary use of passenger cabins for cargo. Governments need to continue to ensure that vital supply lines remain open and efficient. While many have responded with speed and clarity to facilitate the movement of cargo, government red-tape—particularly in Africa and Latin America—is preventing the industry from flexibly deploying aircraft to meet the demands of the pandemic and the global economy.”~Alexandre de Juniac, Director general and CEO, IATA
The report points out that delays in getting operational permits issued, blockages at the border and inadequate ground infrastructure to/from and within airport environments continue to hamper air cargo in countries in Africa and Latin America.
IATA feels that air cargo needs to move efficiently throughout the entire supply chain to be effective. And, thus it urges governments to accelerate approvals for cargo operations, expedite customs clearance for urgently needed medical supplies and ensure there is adequate staff on the ground and land-based infrastructure.