Air Cargo Demand up 3.8% in October

North American carriers had the weakest performance in October with a 1.8% decrease year-over-year in cargo volumes.

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ZoomTeam AdobeStock_589111281

Global demand, measured in cargo ton-kilometers (CTKs), increased by 3.8% compared to October 2022, and for international operations, the demand lagged slightly at 3.5%, according to new research from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

“Demand for air cargo was up 3.8% in October. That marks three consecutive months of year-on-year growth, placing air cargo on course to end 2023 on a much stronger footing than it began the year. Recovering demand, slightly stronger yields and the uptick in trade are all good news. But with demand still 2.4% below pre-pandemic levels, and much uncertainty remaining over the trajectory of the global economy, optimism must be balanced with caution. Nonetheless, a continued strong peak year-end season will certainly help the sector to manage through whatever turns the global economy might take in 2024,” says Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general.


Key takeaways:

  • Capacity, measured in available cargo ton-kilometers (ACTKs), was up 13.1% compared to October 2022 (11.1% for international operations). This was largely related to the growth in belly capacity. International belly capacity, for example, rose 30.5% year-on-year on the strength of passenger markets.
  • Economic activities slowed in October. With the Purchasing Managers’ Index for manufacturing output and export orders for major economies (excluding the U.S.) remaining below the critical 50 mark, there is a clear marker for economic challenges ahead.
  • Inflation in major advanced economies continued to ease from its peak in terms of Consumer Price Index (CPI), reaching between 3% and 4% for the United States and EU, respectively, in October. China’s CPI, however, indicated deflation for the second time this year, raising concerns of an economic slowdown.
  • Global trade reversed its downward trajectory and stabilized in September. Although below its 2022 peak, global cross-border trade is more than 5% above pre-pandemic levels.
  • After a continuous 17-month decline, cargo yields ticked-up in September and continued into October with a 2.6% month-on-month gain, remaining well-above pre-pandemic levels.
  • North American carriers had the weakest performance in October with a 1.8% decrease year-over-year in cargo volumes. This was a slight improvement in performance compared to September (-2.2%). Although the North America-Asia trade lane recorded an increase in international CTK’s (from -1.8% in September to -0.9% in October) and the North America-Europe market saw a slight improvement in international CTK’s (from -2.7% in September to -2.1% in October), carriers in the region did not benefit significantly. Capacity increased by 2.4% compared to October 2022.