Air Cargo demand sees strong growth into second quarter

Geneva — Total demand for air cargo, measured in cargo tonne-kilometres (CTKs), roes by 11.1 per cent in April compared to the same time last year, according to the International Air Transportation Association (IATA).

This is the fifth consecutive month of double-digit year-on-year growth, the data said. Capacity, also measured in available ACTKs, increased by 7.1 per cent compared to April 2023 (10.2 per cent for international operations).

“Air cargo demand started Q2 with a solid 11.1 per cent increase,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general. “While many economic uncertainties remain, it appears that the roots of air cargo’s strong performance are deepening. In recent months, air cargo demand grew even when the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) was indicating the potential for contraction. With the PMI now indicating growth, the prospects for continued strong demand are even more robust.”

Several factors in the operating environment, including:

  • In April, the PMIs for global manufacturing output and new export orders turned positive (51.5 and 50.5 respectively). This is the first time in two years that the new export orders PMI has been in growth territory.
  • Industrial production increased by 1.6 per cent in March year-on-year, while global cross-border trade contracted by 0.8 per cent.
  • Inflation remained relatively stable across the US, EU, and Japan in April with rates at 3.4 per cent, 2.6 per cent, and 2.5 per cent, respectively. China reported a 0.2 per cent increase in consumer prices year-on-year — a positive signal amid concerns over China’s economic slowdown.

April Regional Performance
Asia-Pacific airlines saw 14.0 per cent year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in April – the strongest of all regions. Demand within the Asia market grew by 13.2 per cent compared to April 2023, and the Asia-Europe route grew by 17.7 per cent. The Middle East-Asia route rose by 10.4 per cent, 9.5 percentage points (ppt) less than the growth recorded in March. Capacity increased by 7.8 per cent year-on-year.

North American carriers saw 7.0 per cent year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in April —the weakest among all regions. Demand on the Asia-North America trade lane grew by 7.3 per cent year-on-year, while the North America-Europe route saw an increase of 5.6 per cent, marking the largest demand growth for this route since September 2022. April capacity increased by 4 per cent year-on-year.

European carriers saw 12.7 per cent year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in April. Intra-European air cargo rose by 34.4 per cent compared to April 2023, reflecting the highest annual growth in over a decade and a jump of 8.1ppt compared to the month before. Europe – Middle East routes saw demand increase by 30.1 per cent, experiencing a drop of 8.5ppt compared to the previous month’s figure. April capacity increased 10.3 per cent year-on-year.

Middle Eastern carriers saw 9.4 per cent year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in April. The Middle East – Europe market performed particularly well with 30.1 per cent annual growth, ahead of Middle East-Asia which grew by 10.4 per cent year-on-year. April capacity increased 5.7 per cent year-on-year.

Latin American carriers saw 11.7 per cent year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in April. Capacity increased 9.8 per cent year-on-year.

African airlines saw 10.6 per cent year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in April. Demand on the Africa–Asia market increased by 25.8 per cent compared to April 2023. April capacity increased by 18.7 per cent year-on-year.