Demand continues to fall and was below pre-pandemic levels in July, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Data from IATA says that demand in cargo tonne kilometres was down 9.7% compared to 2021 and 3.5% compared to 2019.

New export orders were down in all markets except China, which picked up in June as Covid lockdown restrictions were lifted.

Maritime will be the main beneficiary of the recovery of global goods trade as Covid restrictions are lifted in China, but air cargo is set to receive a boost.

Capacity remains limited due to the war in Ukraine, mainly affecting Europe as several airlines based in Russia and Ukraine were key players.

Willie Walsh, Director General of IATA, says, “Air cargo is tracking at near 2019 levels although it has taken a step back compared to the extra-ordinary performance of 2020-2021. Volatility resulting from supply chain constraints and evolving economic conditions has seen cargo markets essentially move sideways since April. July data shows us that air cargo continues to hold its own, but as is the case for almost all industries, we’ll need to carefully watch both economic and political developments over the coming months.”

Airlines in Asia-Pacific were down 9% due to the war in Ukraine, labour shortages, and lower levels of trade and manufacturing due to lockdown restrictions.

North American airlines fell by 5.7%, an improvement on the 13.5% fall in June, and the lifting of restrictions in China is expected to boost demand in the coming months.

European airlines had the worst fall for the third month in a row, down 17% due to the war in Ukraine, labour shortages, and lower manufacturing activity in Asia due to Covid restrictions.

Middle Eastern airlines was down 10.9% as any benefits from traffic avoiding Russian airspace has failed to materialise and stagnant European cargo impacted the region’s performance.

Latin American airlines continued to recover, up 9.2% and carriers are introducing new services and capacity, and in some cases investing in new cargo aircraft, helping increase capacity by 21.4%.

Following growth of 5.7% in June, African airlines went into decline with volumes decreasing by 3.5%.