The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for global air freight markets showing that full-year demand for air cargo increased by 6.9% in 2021, compared to 2019 (pre-covid levels) and 18.7% compared to 2020 following a strong performance in December 2021.
This was the second biggest improvement in year-on-year demand since IATA started to monitor cargo performance in 1990 (behind 2010’s 20.6% gain), outpacing the 9.8% rise in global goods trade by 8.9 percentage points.
(As comparisons between 2021 and 2020 monthly results are distorted by the extraordinary impact of COVID-19, unless otherwise noted, all comparisons below are to 2019 which followed a normal demand pattern.)
Global demand in 2021, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs*), was up 6.9 % compared to 2019 (7.4% for international operations).
Capacity in 2021, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), was 10.9% below 2019 (12.8% for international operations). Capacity remains constrained with bottlenecks at key hubs.
Improvements were demonstrated in December; global demand was 8.9% above 2019 levels (9.4% for international operations). This was a significant improvement from the 3.9% increase in November and the best performance since April 2021 (11.4%). Global capacity was 4.7% below 2019 levels (-6.5% for international operations).
The lack of available capacity contributed to increased yields and revenues, providing support to airlines and some long-haul passenger services in the face of collapsed passenger revenues. In December 2021, rates were almost 150% above 2019 levels.