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Air Cargo Demand up 1.5% in August, First Annual Growth Since February 2022

Geneva – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for August 2023 global air cargo markets, showing that year-on-year air cargo demand grew for the first time in 19 months.

•             Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs*), increased by 1.5% compared to August 2022 levels (1.2% for international operations).

 •            Capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), was up 12.2% compared to August 2022 (11.8% for international operations). This was largely related to belly capacity which rose 30% year-on-year as airlines ramped-up operations to meet peak-northern summer travel season demand.

•             Several factors in the operating environment should be noted:

o             In August, both the manufacturing output Purchasing Managers Index or PMI (49.4) and new export orders PMI (47.0) saw a slight improvement to the previous month. They remained, however, below the critical threshold represented by the 50 mark, indicating a continuing, if slower, annual decline in global manufacturing production and exports.

o             Global cross-border trade contracted for the fourth month in a row in July, decreasing 3.2% year-over-year. This reflects the cooling demand environment and general macroeconomic conditions. 

o             Inflation saw a mixed picture in August, with an increase in US consumer prices for the second month in a row.  Meanwhile in Europe and Japan, consumer and producer prices fell. In China, which is fighting deflationary pressures, consumer prices rose.

“Air cargo demand grew by 1.5% over the previous August. This is the first year-on-year growth in 19 months, so it is certainly welcome news. But it is off a low 2022 base and market signals are mixed. Looking ahead, while many uncertainties remain, we can take some optimism from PMI data moving towards positive territory. This is particularly significant as we head into air cargo’s traditional peak year-end season,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

August 2023 (% year-on-year)    World share1     CTK        ACTK     CLF (%-pt)2         CLF (level)3

Total Market      100.0%  1.5%      12.2%    -4.4%     42.0%

Africa    2.0%      -4.7%     3.8%      -3.5%     38.8%

Asia Pacific          32.4%    4.9%      28.5%    -9.9%     44.3%

Europe 21.8%    -0.2%     3.6%      -1.8%     48.4%

Latin America     2.7%      6.2%      13.7%    -2.3%     32.6%

Middle East        13.0%    1.4%      15.7%    -5.8%     40.7%

North America  28.1%    -1.2%     2.7%      -1.5%     37.7%

1 % of industry CTKs in 2022  2 Change in load factor  3 Load factor level

August Regional Performance

•             Asia-Pacific airlines saw their air cargo volumes increase by 4.9% in August 2023 compared to the same month in 2022. This was a significant improvement in performance compared to July (+2.3%).  Carriers in the region benefited from growth on two major trade lanes: Europe-Asia (up from 3.1% in July to 8.8% in August) and Middle East-Asia (up from 2.7% in July to 3.5% in August). Additionally, the within-Asia trade lane also performed better in August, with international CTKs contracting by 4.7% compared to the 9.7% annual decline in July. Available capacity for the region’s airlines increased by 28.5% compared to August 2022 as more belly capacity came online from the passenger side of the business.

•             North American carriers saw their air cargo volumes decrease by 1.2%. This was an improvement in performance compared to July (-5.4%). Carriers in the region benefitted from a slight improvement in growth on two major trade lanes: North America – Europe (2.9% annual contraction in August,1.2 percentage points better than in July) and Asia – North America (declined 4.2% in August compared to 4.4% decrease in July). Capacity increased 2.7% compared to August 2022.

•             European carriers saw their air cargo volumes decline by 0.2% in August compared to the same month in 2022.  This was, however, an improvement in performance versus July (-1.0%). Volumes saw an increase due to the forementioned Europe–Asia performance and a small increase in the Middle East – Europe markets by 0.4%. Capacity increased 3.6% in August 2023 compared to 2022.

•             Middle Eastern carriers experienced a 1.4% year-on-year increase in cargo volumes in August 2023. This was an improvement from the previous month’s performance (-0.1%). The demand on the Middle East–Asia market has been trending upward in the past three months, expanding its year-on-year growth from 1.8% in June to 3.5% in August. Capacity increased 15.7% compared to August 2022.

•             Latin American carriers had the strongest performance in August 2023, with a 6.2% increase in cargo volumes compared to August 2022. This was a significant increase in performance compared to the previous month (+0.5%). Capacity in August was up 13.7% compared to the same month in 2022. 

•             African airlines had the weakest performance in August 2023, with a 4.7% decline in cargo volumes compared to August 2022. This was a significant decrease in performance compared to July (+2.3%). Notably, Africa–Asia routes declined by 1.1% in August following an 11.2% growth in July. Capacity was 3.8% above August 2022 levels.

August Air Cargo Market Analysis (pdf)

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Notes for Editors:

•             * Please note that as of January 2020 onwards, we have clarified the terminology of the Industry and Regional series from ‘Freight’ to ‘Cargo’, the corresponding metrics being FTK (changed to ‘CTK’), AFTK (changed to ‘ACTK’), and FLF (changed to ‘CLF’), in order to reflect that the series have been consisting of Cargo (Freight plus Mail) rather than Freight only. The data series themselves have not been changed.

•             IATA (International Air Transport Association) represents some 300 airlines comprising 83% of global air traffic.

•             You can follow us at for announcements, policy positions, and other useful industry information.

•             Explanation of measurement terms:

o             CTK: cargo tonne-kilometers measures actual cargo traffic

o             ACTK: available cargo tonne-kilometers measures available total cargo capacity

o             CLF: cargo load factor is % of ACTKs used

•             IATA statistics cover international and domestic scheduled air cargo for IATA member and non-member airlines.

•             Total cargo traffic market share by region of carriers in terms of CTK is: Asia-Pacific 32.4%, Europe 21.8%, North America 28.1%, Middle East 13.0%, Latin America 2.7%, and Africa 2.0%.

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