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Capacity constraints limiting global air freight markets

29 Sep 2020

GENEVA, Switzerland - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) on Tuesday released data for global air freight markets in August showing that improvement remains slow amid insufficient capacity.

Demand moved slightly in a positive direction month-on-month, however, levels remain depressed compared to 2019. Improvement continues at a slower pace than some of the traditional leading indicators would suggest.

This is due to the capacity constraint from the loss of available belly cargo space as passenger aircraft remain parked.

Global demand, measured in cargo tonne kilometres was 12.6 per cent below previous-year levels in August (minus 14 per cent for international operations). That is a modest improvement from the 14.4 per cent year-on-year drop recorded in July. Seasonally-adjusted demand grew by 1.1 per cent month-on-month in August. Global capacity measured in available cargo tonne kilometres shrank by 29.4 per cent in August (31.6 per cent for international operations) compared to the previous year. This is basically unchanged from the 31.8 per cent year-on-year drop in July. Belly capacity for international air cargo was 67 per cent below the levels of August 2019 owing to the withdrawal of passenger services amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This was partially offset by a 28.1 per cent increase in dedicated freighter capacity.

Daily widebody freighter utilisation is close to 11 hours per day, the highest levels since these figures have been tracked in 2012. Economic activity continued to recover in August reflected in the performance of Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) indicator of economic health in the manufacturing sector.

Asia Pacific airlines saw demand for international air cargo fall 18.3 per cent in August compared to the same period a year earlier.

After a robust initial recovery in May, month-on-month growth in seasonally-adjusted demand declined for the second consecutive month. International capacity is particularly constrained in the region, down 35 per cent.

The improvement is being stalled by capacity constraints as large parts of the passenger fleet, which normally carries 50 per cent of all cargo, remain grounded, said IATA's Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac.

"The peak season for air cargo will start in the coming weeks. But with severe capacity constraints, shippers may look to alternatives such as ocean and rail to keep the global economy moving," he said in a statement. (ANI)

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