Air Cargo Experiences First Annual Growth Since February 2022

Global air cargo demand increased by 1.5% compared to August 2022 levels (1.2% for international operations).

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Global air cargo demand, measured in cargo ton-kilometers (CTKs), increased by 1.5% compared to August 2022 levels (1.2% for international operations), according to new data released by The International Air Transport Association (IATA).

“Air cargo demand grew by 1.5% over the previous August. This is the first year-on-year growth in 19 months, so it is certainly welcome news. But it is off a low 2022 base and market signals are mixed. Looking ahead, while many uncertainties remain, we can take some optimism from PMI data moving towards positive territory. This is particularly significant as we head into air cargo’s traditional peak year-end season,” says Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general.

Key takeaways:

  • Capacity, measured in available cargo ton-kilometers (ACTKs), was up 12.2% compared to August 2022 (11.8% for international operations). This was largely related to belly capacity, which rose 30% year-on-year as airlines ramped-up operations to meet peak-northern summer travel season demand.
  • In August, both the manufacturing output Purchasing Managers Index or PMI (49.4) and new export orders PMI (47.0) saw a slight improvement to the previous month. They remained, however, below the critical threshold represented by the 50 mark, indicating a continuing, if slower, annual decline in global manufacturing production and exports.
  • Global cross-border trade contracted for the fourth month in a row in July, decreasing 3.2% year-over-year. This reflects the cooling demand environment and general macroeconomic conditions.  
  • Inflation saw a mixed picture in August, with an increase in U.S. consumer prices for the second month in a row. Meanwhile in Europe and Japan, consumer and producer prices fell. In China, which is fighting deflationary pressures, consumer prices rose. 
  •  North American carriers saw their air cargo volumes decrease by 1.2%. This was an improvement in performance compared to July (-5.4%). Carriers in the region benefitted from a slight improvement in growth on two major trade lanes: North America – Europe (2.9% annual contraction in August,1.2 percentage points better than in July) and Asia - North America (declined 4.2% in August compared to 4.4% decrease in July). Capacity increased 2.7% compared to August 2022.