Global air cargo volumes slowed their rate of recovery in October as the industry continues to climb out of the deep hole carved by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, new numbers show.
Specifically, global air freight demand was 6.2% below previous-year levels in October, as measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), showing an improvement from the 7.8% year-on-year drop recorded in September, the Geneva-based International Air Transport Association (IATA) said today. However, the pace of recovery in October was slower than in September.
In contrast, global capacity shrank over the same period, dropping 22.6% in October as measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs) compared to the previous year. That is nearly four times larger than the contraction in demand, indicating the “continuing and severe capacity crunch,” IATA said.
“Demand for air cargo is coming back—a trend we see continuing into the fourth quarter. The biggest problem for air cargo is the lack of capacity as much of the passenger fleet remains grounded,” Alexandre de Juniac, IATA's director general and CEO, said in a release. “The end of the year is always peak season for air cargo. That will likely be exaggerated with shoppers relying on e-commerce—80% of which is delivered by air. So the capacity crunch from the grounded aircraft will hit particularly hard in the closing months of 2020. And the situation will become even more critical as we search for capacity for the impending vaccine deliveries.”
The modest improvement was aligned with improvements in key economic indicators, such as the new export orders component of the manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), an expansion of global goods trade reported by the World Trade Organization (WTO), and an optimistic forecast for fourth quarter growth in the Global Composite PMI.
However, the overall statistics masked strong regional variations, with North American and African carriers reporting year-on-year gains in demand (+6.2% and +2.2% respectively), while all other regions remained in negative territory compared to a year earlier. Those decreases included Latin America (-13.0%), Asia Pacific (-12.8%), Europe (-11.6%), and Middle East (-2.0%), IATA said.
October #aircargo numbers indicate demand is returning. But the capacity crunch remains. #COVID19 #vaccine & e-commerce deliveries are at risk.— IATA (@IATA) December 7, 2020
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