“Economic indicators are improving, but we have not yet seen that fully reflected in growing air cargo shipments. That said, air cargo is much stronger than the passenger side of the business. And one of our biggest challenges remains accommodating demand with severely reduced capacity. If borders remain closed, travel curtailed and passenger fleets grounded, the ability of air cargo to keep the global economy moving will be challenged,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
The aviation sector has been among the worst hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has decimated air travel demand, leading to the suspension of passenger flights and grounding of aircraft with the global economy sliding into a deep recession.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for global air freight markets in July showing air cargo demand is stable but at lower levels than 2019. While there is some month-to-month improvement, it is at a slower pace than some of the traditional leading indicators would suggest. This is due to the capacity constraint from the loss of available belly cargo space as passenger aircraft remain parked.
- Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs*), fell by 13.5% in July (-15.5% for international operations) compared to the previous year. That is a modest improvement from the 16.6% year-on-year drop recorded in June. Seasonally-adjusted demand grew by 2.6% month-on-month in July.
- Global capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), shrank by 31.2% in July (‑32.9% for international operations) compared to the previous year. This is a small improvement from the 33.4% year-on-year drop in June.
- Belly capacity for international air cargo shrank by 70.5% in July compared to the previous year owing to the withdrawal of passenger services amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This was partially offset by a 28.8% increase in capacity through expanded use of freighter aircraft.
- Economic activity continued to recover in July reflected in the performance of the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), an indicator of economic health in the manufacturing sector:
- The new export orders component of the manufacturing PMI rose by 3.5 points compared to June, and was up 19.8 points since April
- The PMI tracking global manufacturing output returned to above 50, consistent with month-on-month growth in output.
July Regional Performance
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