Air cargo demand down 3.3% in January –IATA

Chinelo Obogo The International Air Transport Association (IATA) latest data on global air freight markets has shown that demand, measured in cargo tonne kilometers (CTKs), fell by 3.3 percent in January 2020, compared to the same period in 2019. IATA represents about 290 airlines comprising 82 percent of global air traffic. According to Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, the corona virus outbreak has severely disrupted global supply chains, although it did not have a major impact on January’s cargo performance.

“January marked the tenth consecutive month of year-on-year declines in cargo volumes. The air cargo industry started the year on a weak footing. There was optimism that an easing of US-China trade tensions would give the sector a boost in 2020.

But that has been overtaken by the COVID-19 outbreak, which has severely disrupted global supply chains, although it did not have a major impact on January’s cargo performance. Tough times are ahead. The course of future events is unclear, but this is a sector that has proven its resilience time and again,”  Alexandre de Juniac said.

According to IATA, cargo capacity, measured in available cargo tonne kilometers (ACTKs), rose by 0.9 per cent year-on-year in January 2020. Capacity growth has now outstripped demand growth for 21 consecutive months. It is unlikely that the COVID-19 outbreak had very much to do with January’s weak performance.

Lunar New Year in 2020 was earlier than in 2019. This skewed 2020 numbers towards weakness as many Chinese manufacturers would be closed for the holiday period. February performance will give a better picture of how COVID-19 is impacting global air cargo.

Airlines in Asia-Pacific and Europe suffered sharp declines in year-on-year growth in total air cargo volumes in January 2020, while North American and Middle East carriers experienced a more moderate decline.

Latin America and Africa were the only regions to record growth in air freight demand compared to January 2019.

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