Omicron, weather dent air cargo growth in January

Date: Thursday, February 3, 2022
Source: Freightwaves

A new report shows air cargo demand was flat in January compared to last year and 2019, but the sampling of airlines’ shipment business doesn’t take into account ongoing disruptions to the air logistics system that have prevented carriers from transporting as many goods as shippers are presenting, essentially resulting in an undercount of volume.

The amount of air cargo moved by airlines last month inched up 0.1% compared to the opening month in 2021 and 0.2% versus 2019, Amsterdam-based Clive Data Services reported Wednesday. The market monitor uses a formula that combines weight and dimensional information to measure how much freight passenger and all-cargo airlines carry each month. Data from 2020 is not considered a reliable benchmark because of the unique pandemic effects.

The figures showed a sequential improvement from December, when Clive reported a 5% contraction in cargo volume.

On the positive side, cargo capacity was up 6 points versus January 2021, but is still 4% below pre-pandemic levels.

The January results are emblematic of a predictable soft start to the year after the holiday rush, but volumes and rates started to increase in the past couple of weeks as shippers tried to get products exported before China’s Lunar New Year holiday, which started early this year on Feb. 1.

Last week the International Air Transport Association released figures showing air cargo volume grew 8.9% in December and 9.4% for the critical international sector compared to 2019. For the entire year, air cargo was up 6.9%.

IATA said December capacity was 4.7% below pre-pandemic levels, with the heavy international segment down 6.5%.

The airline group collects data from nearly all its members about cargo weight multiplied by distance carried, but the reporting is a month behind and many industry professionals consider Clive’s methodology more sophisticated.

The one area where numbers from the two organizations appear to closely align is in cargo capacity, which remains depleted because passenger airlines have only partially restored services due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreaks and government travel restrictions. All-cargo airlines have brought much more space to the market in response to a huge need from cargo owners seeking alternatives to congested ocean shipping for their most popular products, but it hasn’t been able to make up the difference.

[Read from the original source.]