Air cargo demand shows resilience in August

Geneva — The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released August 2022 data for global air cargo markets which demonstrated the industry’s resilience amid 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 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 should be noted 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.
  • Inflation levels in G7 countries slowed for the first time since November 2020.
  • Oil prices stabilized 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.

“Air cargo continues to demonstrate resilience,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General. “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 stabilized, inflation slowed and there was a slight expansion in goods traded globally. But the decrease in new export orders in all markets except the US tells us that developments in the months ahead will need to be watched carefully.”

August Regional Performance
Asia-Pacific airlines 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. Labor shortages and high inflation levels, most notably in Türkiye, also affected volumes. Capacity increased 0.4  per cent in August 2022 compared to August 2021.

Middle Eastern carriers experienced an 11.3  per cent year-on-year decrease in cargo volumes in August. Stagnant cargo volumes to/from Europe impacted the region’s performance. Capacity was down 0.1  per cent compared to August 2021.

Latin American carriers reported an increase of 9.0  per cent in cargo volumes in August 2022 compared to August 2021. This was the strongest performance of all regions. Airlines in this region have shown optimism by introducing new services and capacity, and in some cases investing in additional aircraft for air cargo in the coming months. Capacity in August was up 24.3  per cent compared to the same month in 2021.

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.