IATA: Demand grows 3.8% in October

Cargo demand continued to recover in October with the third consecutive month of growth, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Demand measured in cargo tonne kilometres (CTK) was up 3.8% and capacity measured in available CTK (ACTK) was up 13.1% mainly driven by increased belly space.

IATA says several factors should be noted including economic activity slowing in October with the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for manufacturing output and export orders both remaining below the critical 50 mark in major economies except the US.

Inflation in major advanced economies continued to ease, measuring between 3-4% for the US and the EU while China’s Consumer Price Index indicated deflation for the second time this year, raising concerns of an economic slowdown.

Global trade reversed its downward trajectory and stabilised in September, with global cross-border trade more than 5% above pre-pandemic levels.

The uptick of cargo yields in September continued into October with a 2.6% month-on-month gain, remaining above pre-pandemic levels.

Willie Walsh, Director General of IATA says the figures put air cargo in a better position ending 2023 compared to the start of the year, but adds, “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.”

Airlines in Asia-Pacific reported volumes growth 7.6% with strong performances on the Africa-Asia, Middle East-Asia and Europe-Asia trade lanes, and capacity is up 30% because a year ago the key markets of Japan and China still had Covid-19 travel restrictions.

North American carriers had the weakest performance, with the decline falling to 1.8%, with better performances on the North America-Asia and North America-Europe trade lanes not benefitting carriers in the region significantly.

European carriers are growing again, up 1% compared to a decline of 1.5% in September, with the main gains coming from the Middle East-Europe trade lane, up 17.1%, benefitting carriers in the region.

The Middle East was the strongest performer, up 10.9% year-on-year compared to 2.5% in September, benefitting from strong performances on the Middle East-Asia and Middle East-Europe trade lanes.

Latin America continued upwards with 4% growth in October compared to 2.3% in September.

Africa returned to growth with a 2.9% increase in October compared to a fall of 0.1% in September.