2024 Sees Surge in Air Cargo Demand

  • March 18, 2024
  • News

Air cargo had a remarkable start to the year, as per data gathered by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), reports Nigel Tomkins.

The demand for airfreight services surged by 18.4% in January this year, according to IATA.
The global air cargo market in January 2024 showed a strong performance, with total demand, measured in cargo-tonne-kilometres (CTKs), up by 18.4% compared to January 2023 levels (19.8% for international operations). “This significant increase marks the highest annual growth in CTKs since the summer season of 2021,” reveals an IATA statement.

During the same period, capacity, measured in available-cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), increased by 14.6% compared to January 2023 (18.2% for international operations). “This growth was primarily driven by the increase in returning belly capacity. International belly capacity rose by 25.8% year-on-year (YoY) due to the strength of passenger markets,” notes IATA.

“Air cargo demand increased by 18.4% YoY in January. This is a strong start to the year. Particularly, the thriving e-commerce sector continues to boost air cargo demand, surpassing growth in both trade and production since the last quarter of 2023,” says Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

“The concern amidst this positive news is the uncertainty surrounding China’s economic slowdown. This will be a focal point for air cargo executives meeting in Hong Kong next week for the IATA World Cargo Symposium, with a focus on digitalization, efficiency, and sustainability,” he emphasizes.

With air cargo growth surpassing trade and production at the beginning of the year, IATA highlights several factors in the operating environment. Global cross-border trade increased by one per cent in December compared to the previous month (a decrease of 0.2% YoY).

In January, the manufacturing output Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) improved to 50.3, indicating expansion and passing the 50 mark for the first time in eight months. The new export orders PMI also increased to 48.8, remaining below the critical 50 threshold, suggesting a continuous yet slowing decline in global exports.

In major economies, inflation continued to ease from its peak in terms of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in January, reaching 3.1% in both the USA and the EU, and 2.1% in Japan. However, China’s CPI indicated deflation for the fourth consecutive month, with a negative inflation rate of -0.8%, the lowest since the Global Financial Crisis of 2009.