March Marks Fourth Consecutive Month of Double-Digit Growth for Global Air Cargo Demand: IATA

Air cargo

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released its latest data on global air cargo markets, revealing a continued robust growth in demand for March 2024.

According to the report, total demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), surged by 10.3% compared to March 2023 levels, with international operations experiencing even stronger growth at 11.4%. This marks the fourth consecutive month of double-digit year-on-year growth in the air cargo sector.

In tandem with rising demand, capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), also increased, albeit at a slightly slower pace. March 2024 saw a 7.3% increase compared to the same period in 2023, with international operations witnessing a growth rate of 10.5%.

“Air cargo demand grew by 10.3% over the previous March. This contributed to a strong first quarter performance that slightly exceeded even the exceptionally strong 2021 first quarter performance during the COVID crisis. With global cross-border trade and industrial production continuing to show a moderate upward trend, 2024 is shaping up to be a solid year for air cargo,”

Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

Several factors in the operating environment were highlighted in the report, including moderate increases in global cross-border trade and industrial production. In addition, the manufacturing output Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) indicated expansion, albeit with new export orders PMI slightly below the growth threshold.

March Regional Performance

Asia-Pacific airlines saw 14.3% year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in March. Demand on the Asia-Europe route grew by 2.7 ppt to 17.0%, and the within-Asia market grew by 6.7 ppt to 11.8%. Capacity increased by 14.3% year-on-year.

North American carriers saw 0.9% year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in March—the weakest among all regions. Demand on the North America-Europe trade lane grew by 2.9% year-on-year, while Asia-North America grew by 4.7% year-on-year. March capacity decreased by 1.9% year-on-year.

European carriers saw 10.0% year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in March. Intra-European air cargo rose by 24.7% year-on-year. Europe-Middle East routes saw demand grow by 38.3% year-on-year, while Europe-North America expanded by 2.9% year-on-year. March capacity increased 8.0% year-on-year.

Middle Eastern carriers saw 19.9% year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in March, the strongest of all regions. The Middle East-Europe market was the strongest performing, with 38.3% growth, ahead of Middle East-Asia, which grew by 19.6% year-on-year. March capacity increased 10.6% year-on-year.

Latin American carriers saw 9.2% year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in March. Capacity increased 7.0% year-on-year.

African airlines saw 14.2% year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in March. Demand on the Africa-Asia market increased to 22.9%; however, this was a 19.8 percent decrease compared to February’s performance and the largest contraction across the major route areas. March capacity increased by 17.3% year-on-year. 

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