Cargo demand continued to fall in June but at a reduced rate, according to industry data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Demand measured in cargo tonne kilometres was down 6.6% year-on-year in June, but that was an improvement on the 8.3% decline in May.

In the first half of the year, demand was down 4.3% compared to 2021, but up 2.5% on pre-pandemic levels.

Performance in June was affected by trade activity increasing slightly as lockdowns in China were eased, and Latin America and Africa posted stronger volumes, but new export orders were down in all markets except China.

The war in Ukraine continues to impact capacity serving Europe as several airlines based in Russia and Ukraine were key cargo players.

Willie Walsh, Director General of IATA, says, “Air cargo demand over the first half of 2022 was 2.2% above pre-Covid levels (first half 2019). That’s a strong performance, particularly considering continuing supply chain constraints and the loss of capacity due to the war in Ukraine. Current economic uncertainties have had little impact on demand for air cargo, but developments will need to be closely monitored in the second half.”

In June, Asia Pacific airlines were down 2.1%, a significant improvement on the 6.6% decline in May as it recovers from Omicron-related lockdowns in China.

North America is declining, down 6.3% as it is affected by high inflation, falling Asia-North America demand, and the Europe-North America market is starting to decline.

Europe saw the largest decrease, down 13.5% due to the war in Ukraine, labour shortages, and lower manufacturing activity in Asia due to Omicron.

The Middle East fell by 10.8% and any benefits from traffic being redirected to avoid flying over Russia has failed to materialise.

Latin America posted the strongest growth, up 19.6% with airlines introducing new services and capacity, and investing in additional aircraft.

Africa also grew, up 5.7% and carriers in the region have been adding capacity.