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Global Air Cargo Maintains Upward Trajectory, Rising 8.6 Percent in July

Air cargo demand continued its strong growth trend in July, according to a new report from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) released Tuesday.

Global demand was up 8.6 percent compared to July 2019 as IATA said comparisons between 2021 and 2020 monthly results were distorted by the extraordinary impact of COVID-19. Overall growth remained strong compared to the long-term average monthly growth trend of around 4.7 percent, however, the pace of growth slowed slightly compared to June, which saw demand increase 9.2 percent against pre-COVID-19 levels, IATA noted.

Air cargo capacity continued to recover, but was still down 10.3 percent compared to July 2019, IATA reported.

“July was another solid month for global air cargo demand,” said Wille Walsh, IATA’s director general. “Economic conditions indicate that the strong growth trend will continue into the peak year-end demand period. The Delta variant of COVID-19 could bring some risks. If supply chains and production lines are disrupted, there is potential for a knock-on effect for air cargo shipments.”

Looking at regional results, Asia-Pacific airlines saw demand for international air cargo increase 4.4 percent in July compared to the same month in 2019, an improvement compared to the previous month’s 3.9 percent expansion. Demand is being affected by an easing of momentum in key activity indicators in Asia and by congested supply chains, IATA said.

North American carriers posted a 20.5 percent uptick in international demand in the month versus July 2019.

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“This was in line with June’s performance (19.8 percent) and the strongest of all regions,” IATA said. “New export orders and demand for faster shipping times are underpinning the North American performance.”

European carriers posted a 6 percent gain in demand in July compared to the same month in 2019. This was a marginal decrease compared to the previous month’s 6.8 percent gain. Manufacturing activity, orders and supplier delivery times are still favorable to air cargo in the region, the report noted.

Middle Eastern cargo airlines saw an 11.3 percent rise in international cargo volumes in July versus two years earlier. This was a decrease compared to the previous month’s 15.8 percent hike, IATA said. However, some routes, such as the large Middle East-Asia trade lanes, are still showing a strong performance.

Latin American carriers reported a decline of 10.2 percent in international cargo volume in July compared to the 2019 period, an improvement from a 21.5 decline recorded in June.

“Although Latin America continues to show the weakest regional performance, the comparison with pre-crisis traffic levels has been highly volatile in recent months,” IATA said. “Several trade routes to/from Latin America are performing well, such as North-Central America, North-South America and Europe-South America, confirming that demand for air cargo in the region is recovering from the crisis.”

African airlines’ cargo demand statistics for July were unavailable at press time.