Air Freight Capacity Soars: Insights from IATA

The global air cargo industry registered 20.7 billion cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs) in July, extending its steady improvement since February.

According to IATA’s data, Cargo Tonne Kilometers are reflecting steady improvement, as Global CTKs in July were down by just 0.8% year-on-year, a positive sign of recovery compared to 2022. However, they are still 3.3% below pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

In addition, Available cargo tonne-kilometers, and in turn capacity is on the rise, as it surged 

 11.2% in July, primarily due to the restoration of belly cargo capacity, although dedicated freighters saw weaker growth.

When looking at year to date data, we can observe CTKs are steadily approaching 2022 levels, with a reduced annual contraction rate.

ACTKs on the other hand, reached 10.0% above 2022 levels, but future growth may slow due to softening demand.

As Capacity normalises and peak season for passenger flights slows, global goods trade declined for the third consecutive month, impacting air cargo more than container shipping.

However, air cargo maintained a pricing advantage over ocean freight, impacting its competitiveness in certain markets.

In addition, manufacturing and export PMIs indicated a decline in global production and exports, contrasting with air cargo’s recovery in July.

Concerns arise from China’s economic slowdown, reflected in its export orders PMI, which could affect global air cargo demand.

Moreover, inflation trends fluctuated in July, with potential impacts on consumer and business spending, influencing air cargo demand.

Regionally, Asia Pacific airlines showed growth in cargo traffic, driven by increased trade within Asia and with other regions. In addition, Middle East and African airlines also saw growth, while North American and European airlines faced contractions.

In conclusion, the air cargo industry’s resilience in July 2023, as reflected in CTKs and ACTKs, underscores its importance in global logistics and trade. While challenges persist, monitoring these key metrics will be essential in gauging the industry’s trajectory amidst a dynamic economic landscape.