According to data for the month of March released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) global air cargo demand fell 7.7% compared to March 2022 (-8.1% for international operations). This was a slight improvement over the previous February’s performance (-9.4%) and half the rate of annual decline seen in January and December (-16.8% and -15.6% respectively).
IATA notes that, at this point, it is unclear if this is a potentially modest start of an improvement trend or the upside of market volatility. Irrespective of this, March performance slipped back into negative territory compared to pre-COVID levels (-8.1%).
Total cargo capacity was up 9.9% compared to March 2022. The strong uptick in ACTKs reflects the addition of belly capacity as the passenger side of the business continues to recover.
On a regional basis, Asia-Pacific airlines saw their air cargo volumes decrease by 7.3% in March 2023 compared to the same month in 2022. North American carriers posted the weakest performance of all regions with a 9.4% decrease in cargo volumes in March 2023 compared to the same month in 2022.
European carriers saw the most substantial improvement in demand in March over the previous month. Airlines in the region saw their air cargo volumes decrease by 7.8% in March 2023 compared to the same month in 2022. This was an improvement in performance versus February (-15.9%). Airlines in the region continue to be most affected by the war in Ukraine.