COVID-19: Cargo Demand Dropped In April

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for global air freight markets in April showing that demand dropped 27.7 percent compared to the same period in 2019 – the sharpest fall ever recorded. Still, there was insufficient capacity to meet demand as a result of the loss of belly cargo operations on passenger aircraft. Global demand, measured in cargo tonne kilometres (CTKs), fell by 27.7 percent in April compared to the previous year (-29.5 percent for international markets). Global capacity, measured in available cargo tonne kilometres (ACTKs), shrank by 42 percent in April compared to the previous year (-40.9 percent for international markets).

Belly capacity for international air cargo shrank by 75 percent in April compared to the previous year. This was partially offset by a 15 percent increase in capacity through expanded use of freighter aircraft. The cargo load factor (CLF) rose 11.5 percentage points in April, the largest increase since tracking began. The magnitude of the rise suggests that there is significant demand for air cargo which cannot be met owing to the cessation of most passenger flights. “There is a severe capacity crunch in air cargo…the result is damaging global supply chains with longer shipping times and higher costs. Airlines are deploying as much capacity as possible, including special charter operations and the temporary use of passenger cabins for cargo. Governments need to continue to ensure that vital supply lines remain open and efficient,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO. Asia-Pacific airlines saw demand for international air cargo fall by 28.1 percent in April 2020, compared to the same period a year earlier. However, the large Asia-North America market recorded less of a decline (7.3 percent) due to the rise in movement of personal protective equipment (PPE).  International capacity decreased 42.5 percent.

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