Weak demand for cargo in December put a final dampener on 2021 peak season volumes, according to CLIVE Data Services.

Data from the industry analysts shows chargeable weight fell 5% in December 2021 compared to 2019 with supply chain issues, congestion on the ground, and concerns about the Omicron virus variant suppressing any end-of-year uptick.

Fourth quarter data reflects CLIVE’s statement earlier in the year that issues facing the air cargo market were driven by supply chain challenges.

In October, CLIVE’s dynamic load factor measuring volume and weight of cargo flown and capacity available reported lower than expected figures, followed by volumes dropping 1.2% in November.

Cargo capacity in December 2021 remained 12% below December 2019, and the dynamic load factor was 65%, up two percentage points on two years earlier.

Airfreight rates continue to soar, up 168% on December 2019 following monthly gains of 155% and 159% in October and November respectively.

Niall van de Wouw, Managing Director of CLIVE says shipping goods was more complex in 2021 for all modes of transport, and in the air cargo market, airlines have focused more on managing margins than on filling aircraft.

He says: “From a volume perspective, compared to 2019, November and December did not produce ‘the peak of all peaks’. The capacity and ‘dynamic load factor’ trends were more or less in line with earlier months, but rates kept on climbing. So, what is at play here?

“This latest December data amplifies what we saw in November, with issues on the ground impacting the efficiency of the value chain. The rapid increase on Omicron and its impact on staff availability, hard lockdowns and their impact on business and consumer confidence are likely at play here.”