Global air cargo demand continues to remain weak

Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers, fell to 5.2 per cent as compared to May 2022. Capacity, as measured by ACTKs rose 14.5 per cent against May last year, driven primarily by bellyhold. Trading conditions appeared to favour maritime cargo.

CT Bureau

Global air cargo markets continued to show weak market conditions, stated IATA, releasing its data for the month of May 2023. Trading conditions appeared to favor maritime cargo as demand for container shipping contracted by 0.2 per cent, while air cargo demand weakened by 6.3 per cent year-on-year. Global goods trade decreased by 0.8 per cent in April, due to macroeconomic challenges and supply chain constraints.

  • Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), fell 5.2 per cent compared to May 2022 (-6.0% for international operations).
  • Capacity, as measured by available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), rose 14.5 per cent compared to May 2022, primarily driven by belly capacity which increases as demand in the passenger business recovers. Capacity is now 5.9 per cent above May 2019 (pre-pandemic) levels.
  • The global manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) indicates an annual contraction of 1.4 per cent in new export orders and a decrease of 5.2 per cent year-on-year in production PMI. This suggests a cooling in global manufacturing demand.
  • The global supplier delivery time PMI increased to 54.5 in May, up from its low of 35 in October 2021, indicating shorter delivery times and some relief for supply chains. However, this is also a sign of weaker global goods trade demand.

“Trading conditions for air cargo continue to be challenging with a 5.2 per cent fall in demand and several economic indicators pointing towards weakness. The second half of the year, however, should bring some improvements. As inflation moderates in many markets, it is widely expected that central bank rate hikes will taper. This should help stimulate economic activity with a positive impact on demand for air cargo,” said Willie Walsh, Director General, IATA.

Regional performance

  • Middle Eastern carriers experienced a 3.1 per cent year-on-year decrease in cargo volumes in May 2023. This was a slight improvement in performance compared to the previous month (-6.7%). Capacity increased 15.6 per cent as compared to May 2022.
  • Asia-Pacific airlines saw their air cargo volumes decrease by 3.3 per cent in May 2023 compared to the same month in 2022. This was a decrease in performance compared to April (-0.3%) mainly due to the stronger annual contraction in international air cargo demand from -3.5 per cent in April to -6.4 per cent this month. Available capacity in the region increased by 38.3 per cent.