The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said global air cargo growth increased in February although capacity remains constrained.
Global demand measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), was up 2.9% compared to February 2021. Demand was up 2.5% for international operations.
Accounting for the volatility of the Lunar New Year by averaging January’s and February’s performance, IATA said demand increased 2.7% year-on-year.
Although cargo volumes rose, the growth rate decelerated from the 8.7% year-on-year increase in December.
Global cargo capacity was 12.5% above February 2021 (8.9% for international operations). However, compared to pre-COVID-19 levels, capacity remains -5.6% below February 2019 levels.
Several factors benefitted air cargo in February compared to January.
Manufacturing activity restarted quickly after the Lunar New Year holiday, boosting demand.
Capacity was positively influenced by the general and progressive relaxation of COVID-19 travel restrictions, reduced flight cancellations due to Omicron-related factors (outside of Asia), and fewer winter weather operational disruptions.
“Demand for air cargo continued to expand despite growing challenges in the trading environment.
That is not likely to be the case in March as the economic consequences of the war in Ukraine take hold.
Sanction-related shifts in manufacturing and economic activity, rising oil prices and geopolitical uncertainty will take their toll on air cargo’s performance,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.
IATA noted that the zero-Covid policy in mainland China and Hong Kong continues to create supply chain disruptions because of flight cancellations due to labor shortages and many manufacturers are unable to operate normally.