IATA: 2024 starts with 18% growth in January

Air cargo got off to a strong start with demand growing more than 18% year-on-year in January, according to data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Demand measured in cargo tonne kilometres (CTK) was up 18.4% compared to January last year and 19.8% for international operations, the highest growth since the summer of 2021.

Capacity measured in available CTK (ACTK) was up 14.6% over last January and 18.2% for international operations.

The rise of ACTK was mostly due to belly capacity rising 25.8% due to strong passenger demand.

Willie Walsh, Director General of IATA welcomed the figures, saying the booming e-commerce sector has kept air cargo demand above growth in trade and production since the last quarter of 2023.

He says, “The counterweight to this good news is uncertainty over how China’s economic slowdown will unfold. This will be on the minds of air cargo executives meeting in Hong Kong next week for the IATA World Cargo Symposium with an agenda focused on digitalisation, efficiency and sustainability.”

Environmental factors of note was global cross-border trade increasing 1% year-on-year in December compared to a fall of 0.2% in November.

In January, the manufacturing output Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) improved to 50.3, passing the 50 mark for the first time in eight months.

The new export orders PMI increased to 48.8, below the critical 50 mark but suggesting a decreasing decline in global exports.

Inflation in major economies is easing with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) measuring 3.1% in the USA and European Union, and 2.1% in Japan.

China’s CPI indicated deflation for the fourth consecutive month, raising concerns of an economic slowdown.

Negative inflation in China was 0.8%, the worst figure since the Global Financial Crisis in 2009.

Airlines in Asia-Pacific saw CTK growing 24.6% in January with growth of 52.5% on Africa-Asia, 29.5% on Middle East-Asia and 27.5% on Europe-Asia routes.

North America was the weakest performer, increasing 9.3% with the North America-Asia lane up 17.1% and North America-Europe increasing 3.5%.

Europe’s performance increased from 8.6% in December to 16.4% in January benefiting from CTK within Europe growing 18.4%, Europe-Asia rising 27.5% and growth of 46.1% on the Middle East-Europe lane.

The Middle East was the strongest performer with growth of 25.9% due to performance on trade lanes to Asia Pacific and Europe.

Latin American carriers grew by 13.4% and African carriers registered CTK growth of 17% compared to a fall of 1.2% in December.