African air cargo capacity dips by 20 per cent amid global crunch
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), Tuesday, released data for global air freight markets in April with Nigerian and African airlines less affected by disruptions from COVID-19.
Airlines in Nigeria and other African countries saw year-on-year international cargo tonne-kilometres (CTKs) fall by 20.9 per cent.
The small Africa-Asia market was the most resilient route in April, down only 1.0 per cent. International capacity decreased by 36.6 per cent.
Globally, demand dropped 27.7 per cent compared to the same period in 2019 – the sharpest fall ever recorded. Still, there was insufficient capacity to meet demand as a result of the loss of belly cargo operations on passenger aircraft.
Global demand fell by 27.7 per cent in April compared to the previous year (-29.5 per cent for international markets).
The capacity, measured in available cargo tonne kilometers (ACTKs), shrank by 42 per cent in April compared to the previous year (-40.9per cent for international markets).
Belly capacity for international air cargo shrank by 75 per cent in April compared to the previous year. This was partially offset by a 15 per cent increase in capacity through expanded use of freighter aircraft.
The cargo load factor (CLF) rose 11.5 percentage points in April; the largest increase since tracking began. The magnitude of the rise suggests that there is significant demand for air cargo which cannot be met owing to the cessation of most passenger flights.
IATA’s Director-General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Alexandre de Juniac, said the result of the crunch was 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,” de Juniac said.
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. Air cargo needs to move efficiently throughout the entire supply chain to be effective.
IATA urged 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 to move cargo efficiently.
Other regions’ performances showed that Asia-Pacific airlines saw demand for international air cargo fall by 28.1 per cent in April 2020, compared to the same period a year earlier. However, the large Asia-North America market recorded less of a decline (7.3 per cent) due to the rise in the movement of personal protective equipment (PPE). International capacity decreased by 42.5 per cent.
North American carriers reported a fall in international demand of 20.1 per cent 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 per cent). International capacity decreased by 27.7 per cent.
European carriers reported a 33.8 per cent annual drop in international cargo volumes in April, much sharper than the outcome for March (-18.5 per cent). However, the large Europe-Asia market recorded less of a decline due to the rise in the movement of PPE. International capacity decreased by 46.9 per cent.
Middle Eastern carriers reported a decline of 36.2 per cent year-on-year in April, significantly worse than 14.1 per cent fall in March. Despite a number of carriers in the region maintaining some cargo capacity, traffic on all key routes was low. International capacity decreased by 42.4 per cent.
Latin American carriers posted the sharpest fall—a 38.9 per cent year-on-year decline in international demand. International capacity decreased by 55.5 per cent. The COVID-19 crisis is particularly challenging for airlines based in Latin America owing to strict containment measures and a lack of support from Governments to keep cargo moving.