Headwinds continued to affect air cargo demand in October, according to IATA’s monthly report.
Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), fell 13.6 percent compared to October 2021, and were down 13.5 percent for international operations.
Capacity was 0.6 percent below October 2021. This was the first year-on-year contraction since April 2022, however, month-on-month capacity increased by 2.4 percent in preparation for the year-end peak season. International cargo capacity grew 2.4 percent compared to October 2021.
IATA pointed to a number of factors that are contributing to the slowdown. New export orders, a leading indicator of cargo demand, are shrinking in all markets except China and South Korea, which registered slightly higher new export orders in October.
The latest global goods trade figures showed a 5.6 percent expansion in September, a positive sign for the global economy. This is expected to primarily benefit maritime cargo, with a slight boost to air cargo as well.
The US dollar has seen a sharp appreciation, with the broad real effective exchange rate in September 2022 reaching the highest level since 1986. A strong dollar affects air cargo. As many costs are denominated in dollars, the currency’s appreciation adds another layer of cost on top of high inflation and high jet fuel prices.
The Consumer Price Index increased slightly in G7 countries in October and remains at a decades’ high level of 7.8 percent. Inflation in producer (input) prices reduced by 0.5 percentage points to 13.3 percent in September.
“Cargo demand in October – while tracking below the exceptional performance of October 2021 – saw a 3.5 percent increase in demand compared to September. This indicates that the year-end will still bring a traditional peak-season boost despite economic uncertainties. But as 2022 closes out it appears that the current economic uncertainties will follow into the New Year and need continued close monitoring,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.
Asia-Pacific airlines saw their air cargo volumes decrease by 14.7 percent in October 2022 compared to the same month in 2021. This was a decline in performance compared to September (-10.7 percent). Airlines in the region continue to be impacted by the war in Ukraine, and lower levels of trade and manufacturing activity due to Omicron-related restrictions in China. Available capacity in the region decreased by 2.8 percent compared to 2021.
North American carriers posted an 8.6 percent decrease in cargo volumes in October 2022 compared to the same month in 2021. This was a decline in performance compared to September (-6.0 percent). Capacity increased 2.4 percent compared to October 2021.
European carriers saw an 18.8 percent decrease in cargo volumes in October 2022 compared to the same month in 2021. This was the worst performance of all regions and a decline in performance compared to September (-15.6 percent). This is attributable to the war in Ukraine. High inflation levels, most notably in Turkey, also affected volumes. Capacity decreased 5.2 percent in October 2022 compared to October 2021.
Middle Eastern carriers experienced a 15.0 percent year-on-year decrease in cargo volumes in October 2022. This was a marginal improvement to the previous month (-15.8 percent). Stagnant cargo volumes to/from Europe impacted the region’s performance. Capacity increased 1.0 percent compared to October 2021.
Latin American carriers reported a decrease in demand of 1.4 percent in cargo volumes in October 2022 compared to October 2021. This was the strongest performance of all regions, however it still was a significant decline in performance compared to September (10.8 percent). This was the first decline in volumes since March 2021. Capacity in October was up 19.2 percent compared to the same month in 2021.
African airlines saw cargo volumes decrease by 8.3 percent in October 2022 compared to October 2021. This was a significant decrease in the growth recorded the previous month (0.1 percent). Capacity was 7.4 percent below October 2021 levels.