IATA: Cargo posts strongest first-half growth in 4 years

Half-year cargo figures revealed 8 percent growth versus the same period 2 years ago, with global air cargo demand up 9.9 percent in June.

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Photo credit: Josue Isai Ramos Figueroa on Unsplash

The latest half-year cargo figures from International Air Transport Association (IATA) revealed 8 percent growth versus the air cargo market performance recorded in the first half of 2019 before the pandemic.

This marked the strongest first-half performance since 2017 when the industry posted 10.2 percent year-on-year growth. The month of June played critical to the strong half-year performance as global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), was up 9.9 percent compared to June 2019. (Note: As comparisons between 2021 and 2020 monthly results are distorted by the extraordinary impact of COVID-19, unless otherwise noted, all comparisons to follow are to June 2019 which followed a normal demand pattern.)

However, overall capacity in June remained constrained at 10.8 percent below June 2019 due as some of the passenger aircraft remain grounded. Belly capacity in June was down 38.9 percent against the level seen for the month two years ago, which was partially offset by a 29.7 percent increase in dedicated freighters.

In Asia Pacific, airlines saw demand for international air cargo up 3.8 percent in June compared to the same month in 2019, as capacity remained tight in the region, down 19.8 percent versus June 2019.

IATA said that whilst the demand remains high, the region faces moderate headwinds due to lack of international capacity and weak economic indicators (e.g., manufacturing PMIs) compared to those seen in Europe and the US.

“Air cargo is a revenue lifeline for many airlines as they struggle with border closures that continue to devastate the international passenger business. Importantly, the strong first-half performance looks set to continue,” said Willie Walsh, IATA director general.

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