The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for global air cargo markets showing that demand increased in February despite a challenging operating backdrop.
Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers, was up 2.9% compared to February 2021 (2.5% for international operations).
Adjusting the comparison for the impact of the Lunar New Year (which can cause volatility in reporting) by averaging January’s and February’s performance, demand increased 2.7% year-on-year. While cargo volumes continued to rise, the growth rate decelerated from the 8.7% year-on-year expansion in December.
Capacity was 12.5% above February 2021 (8.9% for international operations). While this is in positive territory, compared to pre-COVID-19 levels capacity remains constrained, 5.6% below February 2019 levels.
IATA says several factors benefitted air cargo in February compared to January. On the demand side, manufacturing activity ramped-up quickly after the early February Lunar New Year holiday. Capacity was positively influenced by the general and progressive relaxation of COVID-19 travel restrictions, reduced flight cancellations due to Omicron-related factors (outside of Asia), and fewer winter weather operational disruptions.
“Demand for air cargo continued to expand despite growing challenges in the trading environment. That is not likely to be the case in March as the economic consequences of the war in Ukraine take hold. Sanction-related shifts in manufacturing and economic activity, rising oil prices and geopolitical uncertainty will take their toll on air cargo’s performance,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.