According to data for the month of February released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) global air cargo demand rose above pre-pandemic levels.
Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs*), was down 7.5% compared to February 2022 (-8.3% for international operations). This was half the rate of annual decline seen in the previous two months (-14.9% and -15.3% respectively).
However, IATA notes that the February demand for air cargo was 2.9% higher than pre-pandemic levels (February 2019) – the first time it has surpassed pre-pandemic levels in eight months.
Capacity (measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers, ACTK) was up 8.6% compared to February 2022. The strong uptick in ACTKs reflects the addition of belly capacity as the passenger side of the business continues to recover. International belly-capacity grew by 57.0% in February year-over-year, reaching 75.1% of the 2019 (pre-pandemic) capacity.
“The story of air cargo in February is one of slowing declines,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General. “Year-on-year demand fell by 7.5%. That’s half the rate of decline experienced in January. This shifting of gears was sufficient to boost the overall industry into positive territory (+2.9%) compared to pre-pandemic levels. An optimistic eye could see the start of an improvement trend that leads to market stabilization and a return to more normal demand patterns after dramatic ups-and-downs in recent years”