The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released data for the month of October which reveals that demand for air freight cargo continues, though at a slower rate of recovery than was seen in September.
Figures remain appreciably below those for October 2019. Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs*), was 6.2% below previous-year levels in October (-7.5% for international operations). That is an improvement from the 7.8% year-on-year drop recorded in September. However, the pace of recovery in October was slower than in September with month-on-month demand growing 4.1% (1.1% for international.)
Global capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), shrank by 22.6% in October (‑24.8% for international operations) compared to the previous year. Strong regional variations continue with North American and African carriers reporting year-on-year gains in demand (+6.2% and +2.2% respectively), while all other regions remained in negative territory compared to a year earlier.
Global goods trade continued to trend upwards in recent months, according to the World Trade Organization. The uptick will not be sufficient to avoid a full-year decline of 9.2% compared to 2019. Much of this ground, however, will be regained in 2021 with an expectation of 7.2% annual growth.
“Demand for air cargo is coming back—a trend we see continuing into the fourth quarter. The biggest problem for air cargo is the lack of capacity as much of the passenger fleet remains grounded. The end of the year is always peak season for air cargo. That will likely be exaggerated with shoppers relying on e-commerce—80% of which is delivered by air. So the capacity crunch from the grounded aircraft will hit particularly hard in the closing months of 2020. And the situation will become even more critical as we search for capacity for the impending vaccine deliveries,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.