The International Air Transport Association (Iata) reported on Thursday that air cargo volumes increased in November last year in comparison to October. However, they were still down on the figures for November 2019. The continued parking of many passenger aircraft meant that global air cargo capacity remained constrained because of lack of airliner belly-hold volume.
“Air cargo demand [in November] is still down 6.6% compared to the previous year, however, we are seeing continuing month-on-month improvements,” pointed out Iata director-general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac. “Severe capacity constraints persist as large parts of the passenger fleet remain grounded. This will put pressure on the industry as it gears up to deliver vital Covid-19 vaccines.”
In month-on-month terms, November’s air cargo figures were up 1.6%, while October’s numbers had been 1.1% higher than those for September. At the current rate, global air cargo demand is expected to return to 2019 levels in March or April this year.
Although African carriers saw a 1.7% decline in international air cargo demand in year-on-year terms during November, Africa still recorded the second best performance of all the Iata regions. Total air cargo demand across the continent increased by 2.6%. The decline in international traffic was caused by a 4.5% year-on-year drop on the Asia-Africa route. African carriers’ international capacity fell by 19.4% and total capacity by 20.7%.
The best performing Iata region was North America. This registered a 1% increase in international demand and a 5% increase in total demand, year-on-year. North American carriers benefitted from strong traffic to and from Asia, and from having fewer cargo capacity constraints than carriers in other regions. Air cargo capacity for North American operators was 12.7% lower than it had been in November 2019, a percentage far lower than for any other region.
All other regions continued to record year-on-year declines in air cargo demand in November. These declines (from least bad to worst) were 2.3% for the Middle East, 10.6% for the Asia-Pacific, 13.4% for Europe, and 19.2% for Latin America. In terms of total air cargo capacity, the Middle East was down by 18.7%, the Asia-Pacific by 22.7%, Europe by 24.9% and Latin America by 28.4%.
Overall, economic conditions were positive during November. The manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index new export orders category stayed in the growth zone in both emerging and developed markets. This was the third month in succession that the index showed growth, following two years of showing decline. And retail sales in China and the US in November were 5% higher than they had been during the previous November.