Global air cargo demand reaches 31year-high in March

…up 4K4B compared to pre-cosia levels

Global air cargo activities for March 2021 has outperformed PRE-COVID levels (March 2019) as demand was up 4.4 percent, as analyzed from data released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

March demand reached the highest level recorded since the series began in 1990. Month-on-month demand also increased albeit at a slower pace than the previous month with volumes up 0.4 percent in March over February 2021 levels. Checks by Businessday show that reason for increase in cargo demand is because air cargo continues to meet the growing demands for vaccines globally and other related COVID-19 materials.

IATA explained that comparisons between 2021 and 2020 monthly results were distorted by the extraordinary impact of COVID-19.

Measured in cargo tonnekilometres (CTKS), global cargo demand was up 4.4 percent compared to March 2019 and 0.4 percent compared to February 2021. This was a slower rate of growth than the previous month, which saw demand increase 9.2 percent compared to February 2019. A weaker performance by Asia-pacific and African carriers compared to February contributed to softer growth in March.

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Global capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometres (ACTKS), continued to recover in March, up 5.6 percent compared to the previous month. Despite this, capacity remains 11.7 percent below PRE-COVID-19 levels (March 2019) due to the ongoing grounding of passenger aircraft. Airlines continue to use dedicated freighters to plug the lack of available belly capacity. International capacity from dedicated freighters rose 20.6 percent in March 2021 compared to the same month in 2019 and the belly-cargo capacity of passenger aircraft dropped by 38.4 percent.

Underlying economic conditions remain supportive for air cargo: This is evidenced in the new export orders component of the manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) which stood at 53.4 in March. Results above 50 indicate manufacturing growth versus the prior month.

Demand for exports grew broadly in March. This was concentrated in developed countries during January and February.

Delivery times for manufactured goods are increasing which normally indicates increased demand for air cargo in efforts to reduce shipping time. Global trade rose 0.3 percent in February – the ninth consecutive monthly increase and the longest continuous growth in more than two decades.

“Air cargo continues to be the bright spot for aviation. Demand reached an all-time high in March, up 4.4 percent compared to PRE-COVID levels (March 2019). And airlines are taking all measures to find the needed capacity.

The crisis has shown that air cargo can meet fundamental challenges by adopting innovations quickly. That is how it is meeting growing demand even as much of the passenger fleet remains grounded. The sector needs to retain this momentum post-crisis to drive the sector’s long-term efficiency with digitalization,” Willie Walsh, IATA’S Director-general said.

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