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IATA reports 2023 cargo performance and 2024 outlook

In a recent report by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the outlook for the global cargo industry in 2024 is marked by a notable decline in revenues, yet it maintains resilience amidst various challenges. Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of the key findings:

Cargo Performance and Revenue Projections:

Cargo revenues are anticipated to witness a substantial drop to $111 billion in 2024, representing a significant decrease from the extraordinary peak of $210 billion recorded in 2021. Despite this decline, the figures remain above the 2019 revenues of $101 billion.

The ongoing growth of belly capacity, attributed to the robust expansion on the passenger side of the business, is expected to exert a negative impact on yields. The correction towards pre-pandemic levels is projected to continue with a forecasted decline of 32.2% in 2023, followed by an additional 20.9% decline in 2024. Noteworthy is the historical context of yield progression, marked by remarkable fluctuations: -8.2% in 2019, +54.7% in 2020, +25.9% in 2021, +7% in 2022, and -32.2% in 2023.

Despite these challenges, cargo volumes are predicted to reach 58 million tonnes in 2023 and a slightly higher 61 million tonnes in 2024.

IATA Industry Performance Overview:

The aviation industry as a whole is expected to demonstrate resilience, with net profits projected to reach $25.7 billion in 2024, reflecting a slight improvement over the anticipated $23.3 billion net profit in 2023. This corresponds to a net profit margin of 2.7% in 2024, up from 2.6% in the previous year.

In both 2023 and 2024, return on invested capital is expected to lag behind the cost of capital by 4 percentage points, a consequence of rising global interest rates driven by inflationary pressures.

Operating profits for the airline industry are forecasted to rise from $40.7 billion in 2023 to $49.3 billion in 2024. Total revenues are expected to achieve a remarkable 7.6% year-over-year growth, reaching a record $964 billion in 2024. Meanwhile, expense growth is projected to be slightly lower at 6.9%, totaling $914 billion.

In a sign of recovery, an estimated 4.7 billion people are expected to travel in 2024, surpassing the pre-pandemic level of 4.5 billion recorded in 2019. This represents a historic high, underscoring the resilience and adaptability of the aviation industry in the face of evolving global dynamics.