Slight progress in bellyhold capacity: IATA

Cargo capacity, measured in ACTKs, rose by 13.4% as against April 2022. It increased by 3.2% as compared to April 2019 for the first time in three years that capacity has surpassed pre-COVID level. Uptick was driven by bellyhold capacity, says Willie Walsh, Director General, IATA.

CT Bureau

IATA, which released the data for April global air cargo markets, showed a continued, but soft decline against the previous year’s performance. Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), fell by 6.6 per cent compared to April 2022 (fall of 7.0% for global operations). This decline was, however, an improvement over the previous month’s performance (-7.6%).

Capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), rose by 13.4 per cent as compared to April 2022. It was also up by 3.2 per cent compared to April 2019, marking the first time in three years that the capacity has surpassed pre-COVID levels. The uptick is driven by belly capacity as demand in the passenger business recovers. Adjusting to this, freighter capacity declined by 2.3 per cent. Preighter operations ceased in March after more than two years of continuous activity.

Key factors influencing demand

  • The global new export orders component of the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), an indicator of cargo demand, improved in April. China’s PMI level breached the critical 50-mark indicating that demand for manufactured goods from the world’s largest export economy was growing.
  • Global goods trade increased by 0.2 per cent 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 5.0 per cent in the USA, 0.3 per cent in China, and 3.5 per cent in Japan. While Europe was higher at 8.1 per cent, it is
    below 11.5 per cent in October last year.

“The industry is adjusting itself to the implications of the recovery in passenger demand that brings with it an expansion of belly capacity. Preighter operations stopped in March and freighter services were scaled back by 2.3 per cent in April. The demand is challenging to read. Tapering inflation is a positive. But the degree and speed at which that could lead to loose monetary policies, which might stimulate demand is, however, unclear,” said Willie Walsh, Director General, IATA.

Regional performance

ME carriers experienced a 6.8 per cent year-on-year decrease in cargo volumes in April 2023. This was a slight decline, 5.5 per cent, in performance compared to the previous month. Cargo capacity increased 10.0 per cent as compared to April 2022.