Global air cargo demand surges 14.7% in May

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Global air cargo demand surges 14.7% in May
  • Global air cargo demand surged 14.7% in May, according to latest data from the International Air Transport Association
  • This marks the sixth consecutive month of double-digit year-on-year growth
  • The sector benefitted from trade growth, booming e-commerce and capacity constraints on maritime shipping
  • Expectations for future growth remain positive, although stricter US conditions on e-commerce deliveries from China could pose challenges
  • African airlines saw the highest demand growth at 18.4%, while North American carriers had the weakest growth at 8.7%
  • Asia Pacific region’s total cargo traffic market share of 33% was the largest among carriers

Global air cargo demand surged 14.7% in May, the sixth consecutive month of double-digit year-on-year growth, according to latest data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Air cargo capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), increased by 6.7% compared to May 2023 (10.2% for international operations).

READ: Global air cargo demand sustains growth in April

“Air cargo demand moved sharply upwards in May across all regions. The sector benefitted from trade growth, booming e-commerce and capacity constraints on maritime shipping. The outlook remains largely positive with purchasing managers showing expectations for future growth,” IATA director general Willie Walsh said in a statement.

“Some dampening, however, could come as the U.S. imposes stricter conditions on e-commerce deliveries from China. Increased costs and transit times for shipments under US$800 may deter U.S. consumers and pose significant challenges for growth on the Asia-North America trade lane—the world’s biggest,” Walsh added.

Demand on the Asia-North America trade lane grew by 12%, while the North America-Europe route saw an increase of 8.9%, marking the largest demand growth for this route since mid-2022. Air cargo capacity in North America rose by 2.5% in May.

In terms of regional performance, African airlines saw the highest demand growth at 18.4%, while North American carriers had the weakest growth at 8.7% for air cargo in May.

Air cargo demand on the Africa-Asia trade lane posted 40.6% growth, the strongest performance of all trade lanes. Capacity for the African region rose by 21.4%.

Asia Pacific came in second to African carriers with 17.8% demand growth in May. Europe-Asia, Within Asia and Middle East-Asia trade lanes rose by 20.4%, 19.2% and 18.6% respectively. Capacity increased by 8.4% year-on-year.

Asia Pacific’s total cargo traffic market share of 33% was the largest among carriers, followed by North America, 26.9%; Europe, 21.4%; Middle East, 13.5%; Latin America, 2.8%; and Africa, 2.0%.