The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released its January 2021 data for global air cargo markets. The report showed that air cargo demand returned to pre-COVID levels (January 2019) for the first time since the onset of the crisis. January demand also showed strong month-to-month growth over December 2020 levels.
Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), was up 1.1 per cent compared to January 2019 and three per cent compared to December 2020. All regions saw month-on-month improvement in air cargo demand, and North America and Africa were the strongest performers.
The recovery in global capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), was reversed owing to new capacity cuts on the passenger side. Capacity shrank 19.5 per cent, compared to January 2019, and fell five per cent, compared to December 2020, the first monthly decline since April 2020.
The IATA said the operating backdrop remained supportive for air cargo volumes:
Conditions in the manufacturing sector remain robust despite new COVID-19 outbreaks that dragged down passenger demand.
“The global manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) was at 53.5 in January. Results above 50 indicate manufacturing growth versus the prior month.
“The new export orders component of the manufacturing PMI – a leading indicator of air cargo demand– continued to point to further CTK improvement. However, the performance of the metric was less robust compared with Q42020 as COVID-19 resurgence negatively impacted export business in emerging markets. Should this continue or expand to other markers, it could weigh on future air cargo growth,” it stated.
It added that the level of inventories remained relatively low compared to sales volume.