Air Cargo Demand Beginning to Nosedive

Date: Friday, December 2, 2022
Source: Sourcing Journal

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data Wednesday for October global air cargo markets that showed strong headwinds continuing to affect demand.

Global demand fell 13.6 percent compared to October 2021, while capacity was down 0.6 percent. This was the first year-on-year contraction since April, although month-on-month capacity increased 2.4 percent in preparation for the year-end peak season. International cargo capacity grew 2.4 percent compared to October 2021.

IATA said several factors in the operating environment should be noted. New export orders, a leading indicator of cargo demand, shrunk in all markets except China and South Korea, which registered slightly higher new export orders in October.

The latest global goods trade figures showed a 5.6 percent expansion in September, a positive sign for the global economy. This is expected to primarily benefit maritime cargo, with a slight boost to air cargo, as well.

The dollar has also seen a sharp appreciation, with the broad real effective exchange rate in September 2022 reaching the highest level since 1986. A strong dollar affects air cargo, IATA said, as many costs are denominated in dollars and the currency’s appreciation adds another layer of cost on top of high inflation and high jet fuel prices.

“Air cargo continues to demonstrate resilience as headwinds persist,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general. “Cargo demand in October, while tracking below the exceptional performance of October 2021, saw a 3.5 percent increase in demand compared to September. This indicates that the year-end will still bring a traditional peak-season boost despite economic uncertainties. But as 2022 closes out, it appears that the current economic uncertainties will follow into the New Year and need continued close monitoring.”

Looking at October regional performance, Asia-Pacific airlines saw their air cargo volume decrease 14.7 percent in October compared to the same month in 2021. This was also a decline in performance compared to September.

“Airlines in the region continue to be impacted by the war in Ukraine, and lower levels of trade and manufacturing activity due to Omicron-related restrictions in China,” IATA said.

Available capacity in the region decreased 2.8 percent compared to 2021.

North American carriers posted an 8.6 percent falloff in cargo volume in October 2022 compared to the same month in 2021. This was a 6 percent decline in performance compared to September. Capacity increased 2.4 percent from to October 2021.

European carriers saw an 18.8 percent decrease in cargo volume in October year over year–the worst performance of all regions and a decline in performance compared to September. IATA attributed the decrease to the war in Ukraine. High inflation levels, most notably in Turkey, also affected volumes. Capacity decreased 5.2 percent in the month compared to October 2021.

Middle Eastern carriers experienced a 15 percent year-on-year decrease in cargo volume in October, a marginal improvement over the previous month. Stagnant cargo volumes to and from Europe impacted the region’s performance. Capacity increased 1 percent compared to October 2021.

Latin American carriers reported a decrease in demand of 1.4 percent in cargo volume for the month from October 2021. This was the strongest performance of all regions, however it still was a significant decline in performance compared to September. IATA noted this was the first decline in volume since March 2021. Capacity in October was up 19.2 percent compared to the same month in 2021.

African airlines saw cargo volumes decrease 8.3 percent in October from a year earlier. This was a significant decrease in the growth recorded the previous month. Capacity was 7.4 percent below October 2021 levels.


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