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Global air cargo demand surges in February 2024, reports IATA

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has unveiled data showcasing robust growth in global air cargo markets for February 2024.

The figures reveal a continued upward trend in demand, with significant increases in cargo tonne-kilometres (CTKs) compared to the same period last year.

According to IATA’s report, total demand, measured in CTKs, surged by 11.9% year-on-year in February 2024, marking the third consecutive month of double-digit growth. This growth was even more pronounced for international operations, reaching 12.4%.

Meanwhile, available cargo tonne-kilometres (ACTKs) increased by 13.4% compared to February 2023, driven by a surge in international belly capacity accompanying the recovery of passenger markets.

Willie Walsh, Director General of IATA, highlighted the remarkable growth, stating that February’s demand expansion far exceeded the modest 0.9% increase in cross-border trade.

He noted that such strong performance in early 2024 could potentially surpass the exceptionally high levels witnessed in early 2022, underscoring air cargo’s resilience amidst ongoing political and economic uncertainties.

The report also outlined various factors influencing the operating environment. Despite a modest increase in global cross-border trade and expansion signals in the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for manufacturing output, concerns lingered as the new export orders PMI remained slightly below the growth threshold of 50.

Additionally, inflation rates varied across regions, with notable rises in Japan and the US, alongside positive indicators in China following months of deflation.

Regional Performance:

  • Africa: African airlines experienced the strongest year-on-year demand growth at 22% in February, with intra-Africa trade lane witnessing a remarkable 42.3% growth. Capacity increased by 28.2% year-on-year.
  • Asia-Pacific: Demand growth for air cargo in this region stood at 11.9% year-on-year, a significant decrease from January, likely influenced by post-Lunar New Year slowdown. Capacity increased by 23.1% year-on-year.
  • North America: North American carriers recorded 4.2% year-on-year demand growth for air cargo, the weakest among all regions. Notable growth was observed on the North America–Europe trade lane, while capacity increased by 1.9% year-on-year.
  • Europe: European carriers saw robust demand growth of 14.6% year-on-year in February, with strong performances in intra-European air cargo and Europe–Middle East routes. Capacity increased by 13.2% year-on-year.
  • Middle East: Middle Eastern carriers witnessed a significant year-on-year demand growth of 20.9% in February, with the Middle East–Europe market leading the surge. Capacity increased by 16.2% year-on-year.
  • Latin America: Latin American carriers recorded 13.7% year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in February, with capacity increasing by 8.9% year-on-year.