Air Cargo Demand Soars to 12% in February 2024: IATA

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The global air cargo demand witnessed robust surge for February 2024, marking the third consecutive month of impressive growth, as per the latest data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) 

According to the report, total demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), experienced an 11.9% increase compared to February 2023 levels, with international operations showing an even more substantial growth rate of 12.4%.

Meanwhile, capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), saw a notable uptick of 13.4% compared to the same period last year, primarily fueled by a surge in international belly capacity accompanying the rebound in passenger markets.

“This strong start for 2024 could see demand surpass the exceptionally high levels of early 2022. It also shows air cargo’s strong resilience in the face of continuing political and economic uncertainties,” remarked Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

The report also highlights several influencing factors in the operating environment, including a modest 0.9% expansion in global cross-border trade in January, indicating a slight recovery. Additionally, manufacturing output, as indicated by the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), showed signs of expansion, albeit remaining below the growth threshold.

Regionally, Asia-Pacific airlines experienced 11.9% year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in February.  This was a notable deceleration in demand growth from January’s 24.3% year-on-year growth, attributed to post-Lunar New Year activity slowdowns. 

Conversely, European carriers witnessed a remarkable 14.6% year-on-year demand growth in February, with intra-European air cargo performing exceptionally well,rising to 24.5% year-on-year.

Middle Eastern carriers also saw a substantial uptick in demand, particularly in the Middle East–Europe market with a 39.3% year-on-year growth also indicated a robust performance. While Europe – North America expanded by 5.2% year-on-year.  February capacity increased 13.2% year-on-year.

Meanwhile, African airlines emerged as the frontrunners with a staggering 22.0% year-on-year demand growth, led by strong intra-Africa trade.

Latin American carriers saw 13.7% year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in February.  Capacity increased 8.9% year-on-year.

Despite these positive indicators, North American carriers reported the weakest demand growth among all regions rising at mere 4.2% year-on-year, signaling a need for further analysis into the underlying factors affecting air cargo demand in the region.

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