IATA: Air cargo demand up 8.3% in November

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Cebu Pacific
(PHOTO: Cebu Pacific)

Anything-LondonThe International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for November 2023 global air cargo markets indicating the strongest year-on-year growth in roughly two years. This is partly due to weakness in November 2022, but also reflects a fourth consecutive month of strengthening demand for air cargo. Global demand for air cargo, measured in cargo tonne-kilometres (CTKs), increased by 8.3% compared to November 2022. For international operations, demand growth was 8.1%.

Photo Korean Air Cargo Aircraft 748
(PHOTO: Korean Air Cargo)

Capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometres (ACTKs), was up 13.7% compared to November 2022 (+11.6% for international operations). Most of the capacity growth continues to be attributable to the increase in belly capacity as international passenger markets continue their post-COVID recovery. Compared to November 2019 (pre-COVID-19), demand is down 2.5% while capacity is up 4.1%.

Download the IATA cargo market analysis here.

Some indicators to note include:

  • Both the manufacturing output and new export order Purchasing Managers Indexes (PMIs) – two leading indicators of global air cargo demand—continued to hover just below the 50-mark in November with small positive movements indicating a deceleration of the economic slowdown.
  • Global cross-border trade recorded growth for the third consecutive month in October, reversing its previous downward trend.
  • Inflation in major advanced economies continued to soften in November as measured by the corresponding Consumer Price Index (CPI), centering around 3% year-on-year for the United States, Japan, as well as the EU, in November. In the meantime, China exhibited negative annual growth in its CPI for the second time in a row.
  • Air cargo yields (including surcharges) continued their significant upward trend (+8.9% since October). Rising yields are in line with improving air cargo load factors over recent months. This could be tied in part to booming e-commerce deliveries from China to western markets.
Willie Walsh_Boston
IATA Director General Willie Walsh. (PHOTO: IATA)

“November air cargo demand was up 8.3% on 2022—the strongest year-on-year growth in almost two years. That is a doubling of October’s 3.8% increase and a fourth month of positive market development. It is shaping up to be an encouraging year-end for air cargo despite the significant economic concerns that were present throughout 2023 and continue on the horizon,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general.

November Regional Performance (total market) 

  • Asia-Pacific airlines saw their air cargo volumes increase by 13.8% in November 2023 compared to the same month in 2022. This performance was significantly above the previous month’s growth of 7.6%. Available capacity for the region’s airlines increased by 29.6% compared to November 2022 as more belly capacity came online with the removal of COVID-19 restrictions.
  • North American carriers had the weakest demand growth in November with a 1.8% increase (YoY) in cargo volumes. This was, nonetheless, a significant improvement in performance compared to October’s -1.8% contraction. Capacity increased by 4.0% compared to November 2022.
  • European carriers saw their air cargo volumes increase by 6.7% in November compared to the same month in 2022. This was a stronger performance than in October (1.0%). Capacity increased 6.5% in November 2023 compared to 2022.
  • Middle Eastern carriers had the strongest performance in November 2023, with a 13.5% year-on-year increase in cargo volumes. This was similar to the significant improvement noted in the previous month’s performance (+13.0%). Capacity increased 15.4% compared to November 2022. 
  • Latin American carriers experienced a 4.2% increase in cargo volumes compared to November 2022, very similar to the 4.0% year-on-year increase recorded for October. Capacity in November was up 7.7% compared to the same month in 2022.
  • African airlines saw their air cargo volumes increase by 3.9% in November 2023, slightly improved compared to October’s +2.9% growth performance. Capacity was 14.0% above November 2022 levels.

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