Global air cargo record marginal dip amid uncertainties
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released August 2022 data for global air cargo markets, showing marginal loss despite industry’s resilience in the face of economic uncertainties.
Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), fell 8.3 per cent compared to August 2021 (-9.3 per cent for international operations). This was, however, a slight improvement on the year-on-year decline of 9.7 per cent seen in July.
Capacity was 6.3 per cent above August 2021 (+6.1 per cent for international operations). This is a significant expansion over the 3.6 per cent year-on-year increase in July.
Several factors were blamed for the change in the operating environment. Global goods trade expanded slightly in August and the additional easing of COVID-19 restrictions in China will positively impact cargo markets. While maritime will be the main beneficiary, air cargo will also receive a boost from these developments.
Also, inflation levels in G7 countries slowed for the first time since November 2020. Oil prices stabilised in August and the jet fuel crack spread fell from a peak in June. New export orders, a leading indicator of cargo demand and world trade, decreased in leading economies in all regions except the US.
IATA’s Director General, Willie Walsh, noted that air cargo continues to demonstrate resilience. “Cargo volumes, while tracking below the exceptional performance of 2021, have been relatively stable in the face of economic uncertainties and geopolitical conflicts. Market signals remain mixed.
“August presented several indicators with upside potential: oil prices stabilised, inflation slowed and there was a slight expansion in goods traded globally. But the decrease in new export orders in all markets except the U.S. tells us that developments in the months ahead will need to be watched carefully,” Walsh said.
At the regional end, African airlines saw cargo volumes increase by 1.0 per cent in August 2022 compared to August 2021. This was a significant improvement on growth recorded the previous month (-3.5 per cent). Capacity was 1.4 per cent below August 2021 levels.
Asia-Pacific airlines saw their air cargo volumes decrease by 8.3 per cent in August 2022 compared to the same month in 2021. This was an improvement over the 9.0 per cent decline in July. Airlines in the region benefited from slightly increased levels of trade and manufacturing activity due to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in China. Available capacity in the region increased 13.9 per cent compared to August 2021, a significant increase over the 2.7 per cent growth in July.
North American carriers posted a 3.4 per cent decrease in cargo volumes in August 2022 compared to the same month in 2021. This was an improvement over the 5.7 per cent decline in July. The lifting of restrictions in China improved demand and a further boost is expected in the coming months. Capacity was up 5.7 per cent compared to August 2021.
European carriers saw a 15.1 per cent decrease in cargo volumes in August 2022 compared to the same month in 2021. This was the worst performance of all regions for the fourth month in a row. This is attributable to the war in Ukraine. Labour shortages and high inflation levels, most notably in Turkey, also affected volumes. Capacity increased 0.4 per cent in August 2022 compared to August 2021.