By Cynthia Ezekwe
The global air cargo capacity measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTK) advanced by 13.4 per cent, marking the first time in three years that the capacity has surpassed pre-COVID levels.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for April 2023 disclosed this, noting that the strong uptick is primarily driven by belly capacity as demand in the passenger business recovers, adding that freighter capacity declined 2.3 percent. Preighter operations ceased in March after 2.5 years of continuous activity,” reads the release.
Commenting on the growth, Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general, said, “The air cargo industry is adjusting itself to the implications of the recovery in passenger demand that brings with it an expansion of belly capacity. Freighter operations stopped in March and freighter services were scaled back by 2.3 per cent in April.”
“The demand environment is challenging to read. Tapering inflation is definitely a positive. But the degree and speed at which that could lead to looser monetary policies that might stimulate demand is unclear. The resilience that got the air cargo industry through the COVID-19 crisis is also critical in the aftermath,” added Walsh.
In April 2023 global air cargo markets also showed a continued, but slower, decline against the previous year’s demand performance. Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), fell 6.6 per cent, compared to April 2022, which recorded a decline of 7.0 per cent for international operations. This decline was an improvement over the previous month’s performance of -7.6 percent..
Additionally, the global new export orders component of the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), a leading indicator of cargo demand, improved in April. China’s PMI level surpassed the critical 50-mark indicating that demand for manufactured goods from the world’s largest export economy is growing. Global goods trade increased by 0.2 percent in March, marking the first annual increase since November 2022.
Consumer and producer prices increases have moderated. The April headline Consumer Price Index (CPI) recorded rates of 5.0 per cent in the US, 0.3 per cent in China, and 3.5 per cent in Japan.
African airlines had the only positive performance in April posting a 0.9 per cent increase in demand compared to April 2022. Notably, the Africa to Asia trade route experienced a significant increase in cargo demand in April, up 20.0 per cent year-on-year, also the capacity was 5.3 per cent above April 2022 levels.