Air cargo demand for the movement of protective personal equipment, medical supplies and pharmaceuticals remains strong, while there is an increased move to transport finished goods by air during the global lockdown.
“As factories commence production we are seeing components and finished goods starting to make their way through the air cargo supply chain,” said Glyn Hughes, International Air Transport Association (Iata) global head of cargo. “We anticipate the near-term demand for air cargo to remain strong, particularly as ocean-based supply chains take longer to return to normality.”
This comes as global air cargo shipments fell at least 15% in March compared to last year’s figures, with a bigger plunge in airlines’ cargo-carrying capacity.
But, said Hughes, it was not all doom and gloom as there were some positive developments such as the good demand for e-commerce during the lockdown conditions.
“This is a trend that we expect will continue. We are, however, concerned about the impact of rising unemployment and as many economies slip into recession.”
This could have a mid-term impact on air freight - especially as more consumers start to conserve cash.
Iata has advocated for governments to assist the air cargo sector to remain economically viable so that it can continue to support the fight against Covid-19 and prepare for economic regrowth.
They had called for the fast tracking of permits and simplified processes for ad hoc and charter operations, the continued support for cargo operations and for exemptions for cargo crew while travel restrictions remained in place, said Hughes.