September data for global air freight markets released by Iata reveal that air cargo demand, while strengthening, remains depressed compared to 2019 levels.
Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometres (CTKs), was 8% below previous-year levels in September (-9.9% for international operations), which is an improvement on the 12.1% year-on-year drop recorded in August. Month-on-month demand grew by 3.7% in September.
Global capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometres (ACTKs), shrank by 25.2% in September (‑28% for international operations) compared to the previous year. That’s nearly three times larger than the contraction in demand, indicating a severe lack of capacity in the market.
The stats indicate strong regional variations with North American and African carriers reporting year-on-year gains in demand (+1.5% and +9.7% respectively), while all other regions remained in negative territory compared to a year earlier.
There are various reasons for this, among them the World Trade Organization’s revision of its 2020 trade growth forecast from -12.9% to -9.2%.
“Air cargo volumes are down on 2019, but they are a world apart from the extreme difficulties in the passenger business. For air cargo, 92% of the business is still there, whereas about 90% of international passenger traffic has disappeared. Favourable indicators for the peak year-end season will support the continued recovery in demand,” said Alexandre de Juniac, Iata’s director general and CEO.