Indian Transport & Logistics

Air cargo demand continues to be strong in May

Asia-Pacific airlines saw 17.8% year-on-year demand growth; demand on Africa-Asia trade lane zoomed 40.6%

Strong air cargo demand continues in May
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Total air cargo demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometres (CTKs), rose by 14.7 percent in May compared to May 2023 levels (15.5 percent for international operations). This is the sixth consecutive month of double-digit year-on-year growth, according to the latest update from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometres (ACTKs), increased by 6.7 percent compared to May 2023 (10.2 percent for international operations).

"Several factors in the operating environment should be noted:

*In May, the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for global manufacturing output and new export orders indicated expansion (52.6 and 50.4, respectively).

*Industrial production and global cross-border trade increased month-on-month in April (0.5 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively).

*Inflation saw a mixed picture in May. In the EU and Japan, inflation rates fell to 2.7 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively, while rising in the U.S. to 3.3 percent. In contrast, China’s inflation rate remained near zero (0.3 percent), reflecting weak domestic demand due to high unemployment, slow income growth and a crisis in the real estate sector, a trend that has persisted since 2023."

Willie Walsh, Director General, IATA says: "Air cargo demand moved sharply upwards in May across all regions. The sector benefited from trade growth, booming e-commerce and capacity constraints on maritime shipping. The outlook remains largely positive with purchasing managers showing expectations for future growth. Some dampening, however, could come as the U.S. imposes stricter conditions on e-commerce deliveries from China. Increased costs and transit times for shipments under $800 may deter U.S. consumers and pose significant challenges for growth on the Asia-North America trade lane — the world’s biggest."

Regional performance
Asia-Pacific airlines saw 17.8 percent year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in May. While demand on the Africa-Asia trade lane zoomed 40.6 percent, Europe-Asia, within Asia and Middle East-Asia trade lanes rose by 20.4 percent, 19.2 percent and 18.6 percent, respectively. Capacity increased by 8.4 percent year-on-year.

North American carriers saw 8.7 percent year-on-year demand growth in May —the weakest among all regions. Demand on the Asia-North America trade lane grew by 12 percent year-on-year while the North America-Europe route saw an increase of 8.9 percent, marking the largest demand growth for this route since mid-2022. May capacity increased by 2.5 percent year-on-year.

European carriers saw 17.2 percent year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in May. Intra-European air cargo rose by 25.6 percent, the fifth month in a row of double-digit annual growth. Europe–Middle East routes saw demand increase by 33.8 percent. May capacity increased 11.9 percent year-on-year.

Middle Eastern carriers saw 15.3 percent year-on-year demand growth in May. Middle East-Asia grew by 18.6 percent year-on-year. May capacity increased 2.7 percent year-on-year.

Latin American carriers saw 12.7 percent year-on-year demand growth while capacity increased eight percent year-on-year.

African airlines saw 18.4 percent year-on-year demand growth – the strongest of all regions. As mentioned, demand on the Africa–Asia market increased by 40.6 percent, the strongest performance of all trade lanes. May capacity increased by 21.4 percent year-on-year.

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