Air cargo demand in 2020 lowest since IATA records began
Global demand in 2020 was 10.6 per cent below 2019 levels, the largest drop in year-on-year demand since IATA started to monitor cargo performance in 1990.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released data for global air freight markets in 2020, showing that demand for air cargo decreased by 10.6 per cent over the course of the year, compared to 2019. This was the largest drop in year-on-year demand since IATA started to monitor cargo performance in 1990, outpacing the six per cent fall in global trade in goods.
Global demand in 2020, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), was 10.6 per cent below 2019 levels (11.8 per cent for international operations).
Global capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), shrank by 23.3 per cent in 2020 (24.1 for international operations) compared to 2019. This was more than double the contraction in demand.
Due to the lack of available capacity, cargo load factors rose by 7.7 per cent in 2020. This contributed to increased yields and revenues, providing support to airlines and some long-haul passenger services in the face of collapsed passenger revenues.
Improvements towards the year end were demonstrated in December 2020, when global demand was 0.5 per cent below previous-year levels (2.3 per cent for international operations).
Global capacity was 17.7 per cent below previous-year levels (20.6 per cent for international operations). That is much deeper than the contraction in demand, indicating the continuing and severe capacity crunch. With the stalling of the recovery in passenger markets, there is no end in sight for the capacity crunch.
Economic conditions are picking up as we move into 2021. The new export orders component of the manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) is in growth territory in both developed and emerging markets, and global industrial production has also recovered.
“Air cargo is surviving the crisis in better shape than the passenger side of the business. For many airlines, 2020 saw air cargo become a vital source of revenues, despite weakened demand. But, with much of the passenger fleet grounded, meeting demand without belly capacity continues to be an enormous challenge. As countries strengthen travel restrictions in the face of new coronavirus variants, it is difficult to see improvements in passenger demand or the capacity crunch. 2021 will be another tough year,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.