March marks fourth consecutive month of double-digit growth for Global Air Cargo Demand: IATA

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released data for global air cargo markets in March 2024, indicating a continuation of robust growth in demand. Total demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), rose by 10.3 per cent compared to March 2023 levels, with international operations experiencing an even greater increase of 11.4 per cent. This marks the fourth consecutive month of double-digit year-on-year growth in global air cargo.

Capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), also saw an increase, with a 7.3 per cent rise compared to March 2023, and international operations achieving a 10.5 per cent growth. Despite this increase, capacity continues to lag behind demand, contributing to sustained high load factors and higher yields for airlines.

IATA Director General Willie Walsh remarked, “Air cargo demand grew by 10.3 per cent over the previous March. This contributed to a strong first quarter performance, slightly exceeding even the exceptionally strong 2021 first quarter performance during the COVID crisis. With global cross-border trade and industrial production continuing to show a moderate upward trend, 2024 is shaping up to be a solid year for air cargo.”

Several factors in the operating environment were highlighted in the report, including moderate increases in global cross-border trade and industrial production. In addition, the manufacturing output Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) indicated expansion, albeit with new export orders PMI slightly below the growth threshold.

Despite these positive trends, inflation remains a mixed picture. In March, inflation rates fell in the EU and Japan to 2.6 per cent and 2.7 per cent, respectively, while rising in the US to 3.5 per cent. China, meanwhile, experienced a slight deflation of -0.01 per cent, returning to deflation after February’s brief period of inflation.

In terms of regional performance:

Asia-Pacific airlines saw a significant 14.3 per cent year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in March, with the Asia-Europe route growing by 17.0 per cent. The capacity in this region also increased by 14.3 per cent year-on-year.

North American carriers experienced a modest 0.9 per cent year-on-year growth in demand for air cargo, the weakest among all regions. However, the capacity in this region decreased by 1.9 per cent year-on-year.

European carriers recorded a 10.0 per cent year-on-year demand growth, with intra-European air cargo rising by 24.7 per cent. The Europe-Middle East route experienced a significant 38.3 per cent increase in demand.

Middle Eastern carriers had the strongest growth of all regions, with a 19.9 per cent year-on-year demand growth and a capacity increase of 10.6 per cent.

Latin American carriers observed a 9.2 per cent year-on-year demand growth, with capacity rising by 7.0 per cent. – African airlines saw a 14.2 per cent growth in demand for air cargo. However, the Africa-Asia market contracted by 19.8 ppt compared to February’s performance.

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