The global air cargo market displayed a small improvement in May, in comparison to April, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) has reported. Iata is the representative body for the world’s airlines and freighter aircraft operators.
Measured in cargo (metric) ton-kilometres (CTKs), global air cargo demand in May was down 20.3% in comparison to the same month last year, with international air cargo demand falling by 21.5%. But demand in April had been 25.6% down in comparison with April 2019, meaning that the May figure represented an improvement.
However, the available air cargo capacity was still unable to meet demand. This was because of the large-scale grounding of airliners, caused by air travel bans imposed by many countries to counter the Covid-19 pandemic. In operation, these airliners carried significant amounts of cargo in their belly holds.
However, May again saw an improvement in comparison to April. Year-on-year, air cargo capacity in May saw a 34.7% decline (32.2% for international operations), but April had been down 41.6% year-on-year.
“Air cargo demand is down by over 20% compared to 2019,” pointed out Iata director-general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac. “And with most of the passenger fleet grounded, capacity was down 34.7%. The gap between demand and capacity shows the challenge in finding space on the aircraft still flying to get goods to market. For [all] that the prospects for air cargo remain stronger than for the passenger business but the future is very uncertain.”
All Iata’s regions saw air cargo demand fall during May. Europe and Latin America were the worst hit, with the Asia-Pacific and Middle East doing not much better. The declines in Africa and North America were much less severe.
“Economic activity is picking up from April lows as some economies unlock,” he observed. “But predicting the length and depth of the recession remains difficult.”