IATA predicts decline in cargo revenues to $120 billion for 2024

At the Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Dubai from June 2 to 4, 2024, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that cargo revenues are expected to drop to US$120 billion in 2024, down from US$138 billion in 2023. This decline follows the extraordinary peak of US$210 billion in 2021, attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the forecasted 2024 revenue still surpasses the pre-pandemic 2019 figure of US$101 billion and shows an improvement over the previous projection of US$111 billion announced in December 2023.

IATA also revised its profitability projections for airlines in 2024, showing strengthened financial performance compared to its June and December 2023 forecasts. Total air cargo volumes are anticipated to reach 62 million tonnes (MT) in 2024. Despite robust demand, cargo yields are expected to fall by 17.5 percent in 2024 but will remain slightly above 2019 levels. This adjustment signifies a normalisation following the exceptional highs experienced during the pandemic.

A significant factor contributing to this normalisation is the substantial belly capacity that entered the market in 2023 alongside the recovery of passenger travel. The air cargo sector is currently undergoing a period of correction after the extraordinary conditions of 2021. Metrics such as yields, capacity growth, and the split between belly and dedicated freighters are gradually reverting to pre-COVID trends.

Overall, the air cargo industry is stabilising, moving away from the unprecedented pandemic-driven surge and returning to more typical levels of operation and growth.