Air freight demand eases in September, IATA says

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for global air cargo markets in September 2022 showing that air cargo demand has slowed. Global demand, measured in cargo tonne kilometers (CTK*), decreased by 10.6% compared to September 2021 (-10.6% also for international operations), but remained close to pre-pandemic levels (-3 .6%).

Capacity was 2.4% above September 2021 levels (+5.0% for international operations), but still 7.4% below September 2019 levels (-8.1% for international operations).

Several factors in the operating environment should be considered:

  • The global Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for new export orders also fell to its lowest level in two years (for the third straight month), following declines in all major economies.
  • The latest global trade in goods figures showed growth of 5.2% in August, a positive sign for the global economy. Sea freight in particular should benefit from this, with a slight boost also in air freight.
  • Oil prices held steady in September and the jet fuel crack spread declined from a peak in June.
  • The consumer price index stabilized in the G7 countries in September, albeit at a level of 7.7%, which has been high for decades. Producer price inflation (intermediate consumption) slowed to 13.7% in August.

While air cargo activity remains close to 2019 levels, volumes remain below the exceptional performance of 2021 as the industry faces some headwinds. At the consumer level, as travel restrictions are lifted post-pandemic, people are likely to spend more on vacation travel and less on e-commerce. And at the macro level, increasing recession warnings are likely to have a negative impact on global flows of goods and services, slightly offset by stabilizing oil prices. Against this background, air freight is holding up well. And a strategic slowdown in capacity growth from 6.3% in August to 2.4% in September shows the industry’s flexibility in adapting to economic developments.‘ said Willie Walsh, Director General of IATA.

Air Cargo Market Detail-September 2022 world share?1 CTK ACTK CLF(%-PT)?2 CLF(LEVEL)?3

overall market

100%

-10.6%

2.4%

-7.0%

48.1%

Africa

1.9%

0.1%

-4.1%

1.9%

45.1%

Asia Pacific

32.6%

-10.7%

2.8%

-8.7%

57.2%

Europe

22.8%

-15.6%

0.2%

-9.9%

52.8%

Latin America

2.2%

10.8%

18.4%

-2.6%

38.1%

middle East

13.4%

-15.8%

-2.8%

-7.4%

47.8%

North America

27.2%

-6.0%

4.6%

-4.4%

39.6%

1) % of industrial RPKs in 2021 2) YoY change in load factor 3) Load factor level

Regional performance in September

Asia Pacific airlines recorded a 10.7% decrease in air cargo volume in September 2022 compared to the same month in 2021. This was a decrease in performance compared to August (-8.3%). Airlines in the region continue to be impacted by the conflict in Ukraine, labor shortages and reduced trade and manufacturing activity due to Omicron-related restrictions in China. Available capacity in the region increased by 2.8% compared to 2021.

North American Airlines recorded a 6.0% decrease in cargo volume in September 2022 compared to the same month in 2021. This was a decrease in performance compared to August (3.4%). Capacity increased by 4.6% compared to September 2021.

European transport companies recorded a 15.6% decrease in cargo volume in September 2022 compared to the same month in 2021. This was in line with the performance in August (-15.1%). This is due to the war in Ukraine. Labor shortages and high inflation rates, particularly in Turkey, also impacted volume. Capacity increased by 0.2% in September 2022 compared to September 2021.

Middle East Transport Company recorded a 15.8% year-on-year decrease in cargo volume in September 2022. This was the worst performance of all regions and a significant decrease compared to the previous month (-11.3%). Stagnating freight volumes to/from Europe hampered the development of the region. Capacity decreased by 2.8% compared to September 2021.

Latin American Airlines reported a 10.8% increase in cargo volume in September 2022 compared to September 2021. This was the strongest performance of any region. Airlines in this region have shown optimism by introducing new services and capacity in the coming months, and in some cases investing in additional aircraft for air cargo. Capacity increased by 18.4% in September compared to the same month in 2021.

African airlines recorded a 0.1% increase in cargo volume in September 2022 compared to September 2021. This was a slight decrease from the growth recorded in the previous month (1.0%). Capacity was 4.1% below September 2021 levels.

View Air Cargo Market Analysis for September (pdf)

IATA press release no 50, Geneva – November 7, 2022

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