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Air Cargo Demand Showed Some Lift in August

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released August data for global air cargo markets that it said demonstrated the industry’s resilience amid economic uncertainties.

Global demand fell 8.3 percent compared to August 2021—a slight improvement on the year-on-year decline of 9.7 percent in July. Capacity was 6.3 percent above August 2021, a significant expansion over the 3.6 percent year-on-year increase in July.

“Cargo volumes, while tracking below the exceptional performance of 2021, have been relatively stable in the face of economic uncertainties and geopolitical conflicts,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general. “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 U.S. tells us that developments in the months ahead will need to be watched carefully.”

Asia-Pacific airlines saw their air cargo volume decrease 8.3 percent in August compared to the same month in 2021. This was an improvement over the 9 percent 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,” IATA said. ‘Available capacity in the region increased 13.9 percent compared to August 2021, a significant increase over the 2.7 percent growth in July.”

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North American carriers posted a 3.4 percent decrease in cargo volume in August year over year, an improvement over the 5.7 percent falloff in July.  The lifting of restrictions in China improved demand and a further boost is expected in the coming months, IATA said. Capacity was up 5.7 percent compared to August 2021.

European carriers saw a 15.1 percent decrease in cargo volume in August from 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,” IATA said. “Labor shortages and high inflation levels, most notably in Turkey, also affected volumes. Capacity increased 0.4 percent in August 2022 compared to August 2021.”

Middle Eastern carriers experienced an 11.3 percent year-on-year decrease in cargo volume in August. Stagnant cargo movement to and from Europe impacted the region’s performance. Capacity was down 0.1 percent compared to August 2021.

Latin American carriers reported a 9 percent rise in cargo volume in the month year over year, the strongest performance of all regions. IATA noted that 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 percent compared to the same month in 2021.

African airlines saw cargo volume increase 1 percent in the month compared to August 2021. This was a significant improvement on growth recorded the previous month. Capacity was 1.4 percent below August 2021 levels.