Global air cargo demand stands at 9.4% above pre-COVID levels

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released its May 2021 data for global air cargo markets showing that demand continued its strong growth trend.

Because comparisons between 2021 and 2020 monthly results are distorted by the extraordinary impact of COVID-19, unless otherwise noted, all comparisons to follow are to May 2019 which followed a normal demand pattern.

Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers, was up 9.4% compared to May 2019. Seasonally adjusted demand rose by 0.4% month-on-month in May, the 13th consecutive month of improvement.

IATA notes that the pace of growth slowed slightly in May compared to April which saw demand increase 11.3% against pre-COVID-19 levels (April 2019). Notwithstanding, air cargo outperformed global goods trade for the fifth consecutive month.

North American carriers contributed 4.6 percentage points to the 9.4% growth rate in May. Airlines in all other regions except for Latin America also supported the growth.

Capacity remains constrained at 9.7% below pre-COVID-19 levels (May 2019) due to the ongoing grounding of passenger aircraft. Seasonally adjusted capacity rose 0.8% month-on-month in May, the fourth consecutive month of improvement indicating that the capacity crunch is slowly unwinding.

Source: IATA

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