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IATA: Air cargo demand declines narrow in June

By Damian Brett

Air cargo volumes were down again in June, although the level of decline eased compared with recent months as Covid restrictions in China began to be lifted.

The latest statistics from IATA show that air cargo traffic in June was down 6.4% in cargo tonne km (CTK) terms compared with a year earlier.

Capacity for the month was up 6.7% and the average cargo load factor slipped by 6.9 percentage points to 49.2% – the first time the load factor has dropped below 50% since February 2020.

However, the airline association pointed out that the demand decline in June was an improvement on the drop of 11.2% and 8.3% registered in April and May respectively.

IATA said that trade activity ramped-up slightly in June as lockdowns in China due to Omicron were eased and Latin America and Africa also contributed to growth with stronger volumes.

On the other hand, new export orders, a leading indicator of cargo demand and world trade, decreased in all markets, except China, and the war in Ukraine continued to impact the market.

IATA director general Willie Walsh pointed out that cargo demand was ahead of 2019 levels in the first half.

Walsh said: “Air cargo demand over the first half of 2022 was 2.2% above pre-Covid levels (first half 2019). That’s a strong performance, particularly considering continuing supply chain constraints and the loss of capacity due to the war in Ukraine.

“Current economic uncertainties have had little impact on demand for air cargo, but developments will need to be closely monitored in the second half.”

Looking at regional performance, carriers from Latin America and Africa were the only ones to post increases in demand.

Asia Pacific airlines reported a 2.1% year-on-year decline in CTK for the month, although this was a “significant” improvement on the 6.6% drop for May.

“Airlines in the region have been heavily impacted by lower trade and manufacturing activity due to Omicron-related lockdowns in China, however, this continued to ease in June as restrictions were lifted,” IATA said.

Carriers from North America registered a 6.3% fall in cargo traffic in June as high inflation affected the region.

European carriers suffered the largest decrease in cargo traffic of 13.%, which IATA attributed to the war in Ukraine, labor shortages and lower manufacturing activity in Asia due to Omicron.

There was a drop of 10.8% for Middle East-based airlines and “significant benefits from traffic being redirected to avoid flying over Russia failed to materialise”, IATA said.

On a more positive front, Latin American carriers reported an increase of 19.6% year on year in CTK for June, the strongest performance of all regions.

“Airlines in this region have shown optimism by introducing new services and capacity, and in some cases investing in additional aircraft for air cargo in the coming months,” IATA said.

Finally, African airlines registered a 5.7% increase in cargo traffic for the month as carriers added additional capacity.

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Hong Kong faces more cross-border trucking restrictions

By Damian Brett

Supply chains operating through Hong Kong are once again facing restrictions on cross-border truck operations due to Covid-restrictions.

Freight forwarder Dimerco said that increasing Covid cases around Shenzhen have led to the city reducing daily cross-border truck movements from 3,500 to 1,500.

The restrictions began on July 25 and reduce truck capacity to around 10-20% of usual levels.

“In addition, stricter testing policies have been enacted. Truck drivers must show proof of a negative test result within 24 hours, versus the previous 48 hours, from July 24 to July 31,” Dimerco said.

As a result of the truck restrictions, Dimerco is expecting to see a significant rise in demand for sea feeder services to transport cargo to Hong Kong.

Flexport also warned of delays to Shenzhen shipments travelling via Hong Kong.

“Shenzhen-Hong Kong cross border operations have also been affected due to a surge in Covid cases and a subsequent quota reduction of at least 50%,” it said.

“Shipments that need to be trucked to Hong Kong should expect longer transit times.”

Restrictions were also put in place on cross-border truck operations earlier in the year as China battled a series of Covid outbreaks.

At the time, Hong Kong-hubbed airline Cathay Pacific said the trucking restrictions were one of the main reasons for its demand declines.

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Lufthansa Cargo ground workers called on to take part in strike

By Damian Brett

Lufthansa Cargo ALFH B777F Source: Lufthansa Cargo

Lufthansa Cargo ground workers are tomorrow set to join strike action being called by Germany’s ver.di union.

The union has called on the 20,000 Lufthansa ground workers it represents to take part in a strike running from 03:45hrs on Wednesday until 06:00hrs on Thursday over pay.

Ver.di is currently negotiating for the approximately 20,000 employees at Lufthansa AG Boden, Lufthansa Technik, Lufthansa Systems, Lufthansa Technik Logistik Services (LTLS), Lufthansa Cargo and Lufthansa Service Gesellschaft (LSG) as well as Lufthansa Engineering and Operational Services (LEOS).

A Lufthansa Cargo spokesperson said it is monitoring the situation very closely and taking measures to maintain cargo operations for our customers in the best possible way.

“We are in close communication with all parties involved in order to avoid delays or flight cancellations of freighters. However, it is currently difficult to estimate how many of our ground employees at Lufthansa Cargo will respond to the strike call,” they said.

“Lufthansa Airlines has significantly reduced its flight schedule for Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Given these circumstances, shipments booked to be transported during the strike period as belly cargo will be rebooked.”

Lufthansa Cargo’s freighter connections are expected to operate as scheduled, provided no operational adjustments become necessary at short notice.

“Traditionally, Lufthansa Cargo stands for reliability and team cohesion,” the spokesperson added.

In Frankfurt, a total of 678 flights will have to be canceled, including 32 already today (Tuesday) and 646 on Wednesday.

At the Munich hub, a total of 345 flights will have to be canceled, 15 of them already today (Tuesday) and 330 on Wednesday.

The effects of the strike may still lead to individual flight cancellations or delays on Thursday and Friday, Lufthansa warned.

The union warned of disruption: “Since all ground workers, including Lufthansa Technik responsible for maintenance and the LEOS employees who use pushback vehicles to ensure that the aircraft are pushed back into the appropriate positions, are called on to go on warning strike, there will be major flight cancellations and delays come.”

Ver.di is demanding a salary increase to reflect the current working conditions being faced by the staff but has so far rejected offers from Lufthansa.

“The ground handling services and security forces that remain after two years of the pandemic, including massive job cuts, are doing their best every day to keep air traffic going. But the workers are out of breath. Mainly because their employers hardly do anything to improve their situation,” the union said.

It added: “The situation at the airports is escalating; the overburdening of employees due to a significant shortage of staff, high inflation and a three-year wage cut would put the employees under increasing pressure.”

In response, Deutsche Lufthansa chief officer human resources added: “After only two days of negotiations, ver.di has announced a strike that can hardly be called a warning strike due to its breadth across all locations and its duration.

“This is all the more incomprehensible given that the employer side has offered high and socially balanced pay increases – despite the continuing tense economic situation for Lufthansa following the Covid crisis, high debt burdens and uncertain prospects for the global economy.

 “After the enormous efforts to stabilize our flight operations, this represents a renewed, substantial and unnecessary burden for our passengers and also for our employees beyond the strike day.”

Negotiations are set to restart on August 3 and 4.

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States Progress towards Long Term Aspirational Goal on Aviation Emissions

Geneva – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomed progress by states towards a long-term aspirational goal (LTAG) of net-zero aviation carbon emissions by 2050 in line with the Paris Agreement’s temperature objectives. This is noted in the summary of discussions for the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) High Level Meeting held in preparation for the 41st ICAO Assembly later this year.

 “The ICAO High Level Meeting’s support of a long term goal for states that is in line with the aviation sector’s net-zero by 2050 commitment is a step in the right direction. A formal agreement at the 41st ICAO Assembly would underpin a common approach by states to decarbonize aviation. That’s critical for the aviation industry. Knowing that government policies will support the same goal and timeline globally will enable the sector, especially its suppliers, to make the needed investments to decarbonize,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

In October 2021, IATA member airlines committed to net zero emissions by 2050. The path to achieve this will involve a combination of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), new propulsion technology, infrastructure and operational efficiencies, and carbon offsets/carbon capture to fill any gaps.

 “Net zero by 2050 will require a global transition for aviation to new fuels, technologies and operations. The significant investments to get there will need a solid policy foundation aligned with a global way forward. That is why it is so important for states to carry the momentum of the High Level Meeting through to a formal agreement at the 41st ICAO Assembly in a few weeks,” said Walsh.

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Rates predicted to stay high despite a muted air cargo peak season

21 / 07 / 2022

By Damian Brett

Transportation rates are expected to stay above pre-pandemic levels for the foreseeable future despite the recent slowdown in demand.

Seko Logistics chief growth officer Brian Bourke said that demand had slowed this year compared with 2021 and that the constant peak season experienced over the last two years has been replaced by pre-covid seasonal trends.

He said the slowdown has been caused by rising inventory levels, inflation and the return of spending on services as opposed to goods in certain sectors.

However, he said the industry is likely to experience a peak season this year and he pointed out that volumes were still ahead of pre-pandemic levels and supply chain disruption continues.

 “Predictability has disappeared post-pandemic and we don’t see it coming back,” said Bourke.

 “Are volumes down?” he asked. “Yes they are, it is what we used to call slack season – it’s back, it has returned.”

 “It seems apocalyptic because for the first time [in a few years] we are seeing a decrease in volumes, but if you look at it compared with prior to the pandemic, trade is still strong and volumes are still high.

 “We do expect a peak season, albeit a very muted peak season. So we see that volumes are down but it isn’t anything that is earth-shattering.”

And despite a slowdown in demand compared with the last two years, Bourke said that rates were likely to stay at an elevated level due to supply chain disruption caused by labour shortages, possible Covid restrictions, capacity shortages, the war in Ukraine and ongoing port/airport congestion.

Bourke added that air cargo capacity would be reduced as the summer travel season came to an end.

He said: “We advise our clients not to expect rates to revert to pre-pandemic levels in the short-, medium, or long-term.

“It is important for shippers to take that into consideration as they start to think about next year’s budgets.”

He added: “Relative demand in air and ocean will remain a challenge from an air and ocean capacity standpoint which will create continued bottlenecks and congestion in the near and medium-term.”

Also speaking at the event was Seko vice president global carrier management Akhil Nair. He said that trade volumes had not bounced back as quickly as many had expected following the easing of covid restrictions in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

This is reflected in the latest finding from the DHL Hong Kong Air Trade Leading Index (DTI).

The index shows that “0nly” one-fifth of local air traders reported that their current businesses had grown after the situation involving cross-boundary land transport of goods improved.

A similar percentage of the respondents said their businesses have been better in June than in May 2022 amid the region’s relaxation of social distancing measures.

“Despite the slow recovery momentum in June, a more optimistic outlook for overall air trade to and from China is observed in thrid quarter 2022.”

Flexport’s latest market update suggests that airlines are continuing to lower rates in line with volume slowdowns, although prices remain well above pre-pandemic levels.

“Covid cases are increasing again in Shanghai but there has been no impact on airfreight and trucking at the moment,” said the forwarder.

“Meanwhile, Pudong Airport has already reached pre-lockdown levels of daily tonnage turnover.

 “Shanghai is also experiencing its hottest week in recent years which is leading to payload reductions ranging from 3-10%.

 “As a result, some cargo may be offloaded at the last minute and may cause service delays. For Frankfurt (FRA) bound volume, continue to expect delays of two-four days due to manpower shortages and flight cancellations.”

TAC Index figures show rates declined in June, while CLIVE Data Services data for the same month also showed rates cooling.

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Freighter fleet to grow by 80%, says Boeing

By Rebecca Jeffrey

Boeing 777-8 freighter. Copyright: Boeing

Over the next 20 years the global freighter fleet will grow by 80%, with conversions accounting for two third of deliveries, predicts Boeing.

Carriers will need 2,800 additional freighters overall, said the airframer in its Commercial Market Outlook (CMO) for 2022-2041.

 “Over the next 20 years, the freighter fleet will grow from pre-pandemic levels by 80%, which represents 3% average annual fleet growth,” said Boeing.

“We forecast approximately 2,800 production-plus-conversion deliveries, with approximately half replacing retiring airplanes, and the remainder expanding the fleet to meet projected traffic growth.

“Roughly two thirds of deliveries will be freighter conversions from passenger airplanes, about 70% of which will be standard-body passenger aircraft.”

The expected 2,800 freighters includes 940 new widebody models in addition to converted narrowbody and widebody freighters over the forecast period, said Boeing.

In the standard body segment, the fleet is projected to grow by 90% over 2021 levels, with a projected 1,300 conversions.

In comparison, Airbus’ 2022 Global Market Forecast for the 2022-2041 period expects that the world freighter fleet in service will reach 3,070 aircraft by 2041, with nearly 70% of the current fleet anticipated to be replaced.

The Asia Pacific freighter fleet is forecast to grow larger than any other region and is expected to “become roughly the same size as the North American fleet by the end of the forecast period,” said Boeing.

In comparison, the North American fleet is projected to grow by one third. However, Boeing added the North American fleet will “need roughly as many deliveries as Asia-Pacific to efficiently and sustainably replace the existing fleet”.

The 2019 world freighter fleet consisted of 2,010 jet airplanes. By the end of 2021, the fleet had grown to 2,250 freighters. Additionally, freighter utilisation has been operating at approximately 125% of normal levels.

Overall air-cargo capacity has rebounded to 2019 levels with dedicated freighters hauling roughly two thirds of all air cargo, explained Boeing.

For the period 2022–2041, Boeing forecasts that air cargo traffic, in revenue tonne kilometers, or RTKs, will grow at 4.1% annually, an increase from last year’s forecast of 4%.

Development of global supply chains, express and e-commerce will drive continued demand for freighters. Ongoing oceanfreight disruption is also increasing demand.

Supply chain diversification is likely to increase air cargo demand because: “The pandemic has highlighted the value of air cargo’s speed and reliability as a tool to reduce supply chain risk”; and “Supply chains with more nodes in the system can profit from the flexibility of air cargo and point-to-point service.”

Air Cargo News‘ sister title FlightGlobal has also reported that Boeing plans to open a second surge line for 737-800 freighter conversions at its facility near London Gatwick airport. Conversion work on the new line will start in November.

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Sustained freighter demand expected over next 20 years, says Airbus

By Rebecca Jeffrey

Airbus expects sustained demand for freighters over the next 20 years with nearly 70% of the current fleet anticipated to be replaced.

The airframer’s 2022 Global Market Forecast for the 2022-2041 period shows that the world freighter fleet in service will reach 3,070 aircraft by 2041.

This new report, published on July 8, anticipates there will be demand for 2,440 newbuild or converted freighters over the next 20 years, with nearly 900 newbuild freighters expected.

Of this expected freighter demand over 2022-2041, 990 will be 10-40 tonne single-aisle aircraft, 890 will be 40-80 tonne mid-sized widebody aircraft and 560 will be 80 tonne + large widebody aircraft.

2,030 aircraft were in service at the beginning of 2020. 31% will stay in-service (including 2020 & 2021 deliveries), while 69% will be replaced.

Express air cargo is predicted to outpace general air cargo.

The airframer said that in 2019, express air cargo made up 17% of the airfreight market, while general air cargo encompassed 83%.

But by 2041, express air cargo, boosted by e-commerce is expected to climb to comprise 25% of the market.

Airbus expects world air cargo traffic growth of 3.2% CAGR from 2019-2041.

The positive expectation of freighter demand over the coming years comes as Airbus recently announced the development of a new large widebody freighter model – the A350F.

Air Cargo News reported on July 11 that an unnamed customer has placed an order for seven Airbus A350 freighter aircraft.

Silk Way West Airlines signed a purchase agreement for two A350Fs last month.

Air France-KLM finalised its order for four A350Fs with purchase rights for an additional four aircraft in April, after signing a Letter of Intent (LOI) with Airbus in December.

In December, Singapore Airlines (SIA) signed an LOI to purchase seven A350Fs, with options to order another five aircraft, while in November, CMA CGM signed up for four A350Fs.

Air Lease also placed a provisional order for seven A350Fs in November, making it the launch customer for Airbus’ new freighter programme.

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International Travel Drives May Air Traffic Recovery

Geneva – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced passenger data for May 2022 showing that the recovery in air travel accelerated heading into the busy Northern Hemisphere summer travel season.

Note: We have returned to year-on-year traffic comparisons, instead of comparisons with the 2019 period, unless otherwise noted. Owing to the low traffic base in 2021, some markets will show very high year-on-year growth rates, even if the size of these markets is still significantly smaller than they were in 2019.

 •            Total traffic in May 2022 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was up 83.1% compared to May 2021, largely driven by the strong recovery in international traffic. Global traffic is now at 68.7% of pre-crisis levels.

•             Domestic traffic for May 2022 was up 0.2% compared to the year-ago period.  Significant improvements in many markets were masked by a 73.2% year-on-year decline in the Chinese domestic market due to COVID-19 related restrictions. May 2022 domestic traffic was 76.7% of May 2019.

•             International traffic rose 325.8% versus May 2021. The easing of travel restrictions in most parts of Asia is accelerating the recovery of international travel. May 2022 international RPKs reached 64.1% of May 2019 levels.

“The travel recovery continues to gather momentum. People need to travel. And when governments remove COVID-19 restrictions, they do. Many major international route areas – including within Europe, and the Middle East-North America routes – are already exceeding pre-COVID-19 levels. Completely removing all COVID-19 restrictions is the way forward, with Australia being the latest to do so this week. The major exception to the optimism of this rebound in travel is China, which saw a dramatic 73.2% fall in domestic travel compared to the previous year. Its continuing zero-COVID policy is out-of-step with the rest of the world and it shows in the dramatically slower recovery of China-related travel,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

May 2022 (% year-on-year)         World share1     RPK        ASK        PLF (%-pt)2         PLF (level)3

Total Market      100.0%  83.1%    52.8%    13.1%    79.1%

Africa    1.9%      124.9%  76.8%    14.9%    69.6%

Asia Pacific          27.5%    -4.7%     -8.2%     2.6%      69.6%

Europe 25.0%    258.8%  159.1%  22.4%    80.7%

Latin America     6.5%      99.3%    89.5%    4.0%      80.7%

Middle East        6.6%      279.6%  103.5%  35.4%    76.2%

North America  32.6%    56.3%    36.6%    10.8%    86.0%

1% of industry RPKs in 2021   2year-on-year change in load factor   3Load Factor Level

 International Passenger Markets

•             European carriers’ May traffic rose 412.3% versus May 2021. Capacity rose 221.3%, and load factor climbed 30.1 percentage points to 80.6%. The impact of the war in Ukraine remained limited to areas directly impacted.

 •            Asia-Pacific airlines had a 453.3% rise in May traffic compared to May 2021. This is significantly higher than the 295.3% year-on-year gain registered in April 2022. Capacity rose 118.8% and the load factor was up 43.6 percentage points to 72.1%. Improvements in the region are being driven by reduced restrictions in most of the region’s markets, except China.

•             Middle Eastern airlines’ traffic rose 317.2% in May compared to May 2021. May capacity rose 115.7% versus the year-ago period, and load factor climbed 37.1 percentage points to 76.8%. The progressive re-opening of Asian markets is boosting traffic through Gulf hubs.

•             North American carriers experienced a 203.4% traffic rise in May versus the 2021 period. Capacity rose 101.1%, and load factor climbed 27.1 percentage points to 80.3%. With most restrictions removed for travelers from this region, tourism and a high willingness to travel continue to foster the international recovery as several other routes areas are now outperforming 2019 results.

 •            Latin American airlines’ May traffic rose 180.5% compared to the same month in 2021. May capacity rose 135.3% and load factor increased 13.5 percentage points to 83.4%, which was the highest load factor among the regions for the 20th consecutive month. Some routes, including those from Central America to Europe and to North America, are outperforming 2019 levels.

•             African airlines had a 134.9% rise in May RPKs versus a year ago. May 2022 capacity was up 78.5% and load factor climbed 16.4 percentage points to 68.4%, the lowest among regions.

Domestic Passenger Markets

May 2022 (% year-on-year)         World share1  

RPK        ASK        PLF (%-pt)2         PLF (level)3

Domestic             62.3%    0.2%      -3.3%     2.9%      79.8%

Australia              0.8%      34.7%    23.1%    6.5%      75.6%

Brazil     1.9%      73.1%    89.6%    -7.1%     74.8%

China P.R.            17.8%    -73.2%  -64.7%  -18.8%  59.1%

India      2.2%      405.7%  205.7%  32.4%    81.8%

Japan    1.1%      132.7%  70.7%    15.2%    56.9%

US          25.6%    26.1%    15.6%    7.3%      88.7%

1% of industry RPKs in 2021   2year-on-year change in load factor 3Load Factor Level

•             India’s domestic RPKs rose 405.7% year-on-year in May, compared to the 78.6% increase recorded in April. In May 2021, India had experienced the country’s most severe COVID-19 outbreak.

 •            US domestic traffic was up 26.1% in May, compared to May 2021.

2022 vs 2019

The strong results in most international and domestic markets compared to a year ago is helping passenger demand catch-up to 2019 levels. Total RPKs in May 2022 reached 68.7% of May 2019 levels, which was the best performance against pre-COVID-19 travel so far this year.

May 2022 (% ch vs the same month in 2019)        World share in1                RPK        ASK        PLF (%-pt)2         PLF (level)3

Total Market      100.0%  -31.3%  -28.9%  -2.7%     79.1%

International      37.7%    -35.9%  -34.3%  -1.9%     78.6%

Domestic             62.3%    -23.3%  -19.2%  -4.2%     79.8%

The Bottom Line

“The recovery in travel markets is no less than impressive. As we accelerate towards the peak summer season in the Northern Hemisphere, strains in the system are appearing in some European and North American hubs. Nobody wants to see passengers suffering from delays or cancellations. But passengers can be confident that solutions are being urgently implemented. Airlines, airports and governments are working together, however, standing up the workforce needed to meet growing demand will take time and require patience in the few locations where the bottlenecks are the most severe.

In the longer term, governments must improve their understanding of how aviation operates and work more closely with airports and airlines. Having created so much uncertainty with knee-jerk COVID-19 policy flipflops and avoiding most opportunities to work in unison based on global standards, their actions did little to enable a smooth ramping-up of activity. And it is unacceptable that the industry is now facing a potential punitive regulatory deluge as several governments fill their post-COVID-19 regulatory calendars. Aviation has delivered its best when governments and industry work together to agree and implement global standards. That axiom is as true post-COVID-19 as it was in the century before.” said Walsh.

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Air cargo volumes down again while rates continue to cool

Air cargo demand declined compared with a year ago for the fourth month in a row in June, according to the latest statistics from CLIVE Data Services.

Figures from the Xeneta-owned data provider show an 8% year-on-year decline in chargeable weight in June, following on from drops in March, April and May.

The dynamic cargo load factor – taking into account weight and volume – for the month was nine percentage points behind last year at 59%.

The load factor decline comes as demand fell and carriers continue to add capacity – up 6% on last year – to cater for returning passenger demand.

Despite the weakening supply and demand conditions, rates for the year were up 13% compared with the same month last year, although there was a decline compared to May.

Xeneta chief airfreight officer Niall van de Wouw said that the North Atlantic market had seen the steepest decline in conditions as carriers have been rapidly adding capacity.

This caused June’s rates on the trade to drop by 30% over the last three months with rates now very close to 2020 levels.

He warned that this could have knock-on effects on other trade lanes, while inflation could also impact market demand.

“While flights ex Asia to the US and Europe remain relatively full, we are seeing a subdued North Atlantic market, largely due to more capacity,” van de Wouw said.

“We have to consider what will be the knock-on effect of a softening air cargo market? Will carriers deploy their freighters to other markets in Asia Pacific, Africa, or South America?

“We are already seeing some freighter redeployment in the market. It will also be interesting to see the reaction of forwarders that have secured air cargo capacity directly with airlines or through charter brokers or ACMI providers because, in a softening market, more options are available.

“They were willing to pay a price for reliability and their own control, but they may now be considering how much cheaper it could now be to use commercial airline capacity.

“And, has the ‘cost of living’ crisis even started to kick in yet?”

Rising cases of Covid will be another market concern, he said, as is the continuing struggle to tackle the people drain in the aviation and logistics industries.

He pointed to reports of restrictions on freighter operations at Frankfurt Airport due to labour shortages as well as the recent study by the International Road Transport Union, which shows 2.6m truck driver vacancies went unfilled in 2021 and forecasts a worsening situation in 2022.

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May Air Cargo Buoyed by Easing of Omicron Restrictions in China

 Geneva – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released May 2022 data for global air cargo markets showing that the easing of Omicron restrictions in China helped to alleviate supply chain constraints and contributed a performance improvement in May.

Note: We returned to year-on-year traffic comparisons, instead of comparisons with the 2019 period, unless otherwise noted.

•             Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs*), was 8.3% below May 2021 levels (-8.1% for international operations). This was an improvement on the year-on-year decline of 9.1% seen in April.

•             Capacity was 2.7% above May 2021 (+5.7% for international operations). This more than offset the 0.7% year-on-year drop in April. Capacity expanded in all regions with Asia-Pacific experiencing the largest growth.

•             Air cargo performance is being impacted by several factors.  

o             Trade activity ramped-up slightly in May as lockdowns in China due to Omicron were eased. Emerging regions also contributed to growth with stronger volumes. 

o             New export orders, a leading indicator of cargo demand and world trade, decreased in all markets, except China. 

o             The war in Ukraine continues to impair cargo capacity used to serve Europe as several airlines based in Russia and Ukraine were key cargo players.

“May offered positive news for air cargo, most notably because of the easing of some Omicron restrictions in China. On a seasonally adjusted basis, we saw growth (0.3%) after two months of decline. The return of Asian production as COVID-19 measures eased, particularly in China, will support demand for air cargo. And the strong rebound in passenger traffic has increased belly capacity, although not always in the markets where the capacity crunch is most critical. But uncertainty in the overall economic situation will need to be carefully watched,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General. 

May 2022

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

Total Market      100.0%  -8.3%     2.7%      -6.1%     50.5%

Africa    1.9%      -1.5%     3.0%      -2.3%     49.5%

Asia Pacific          32.6%    -6.6%     -7.4%     0.5%      62.7%

Europe 22.8%    -14.6%  3.3%      -11.5%  54.8%

Latin America     2.2%      13.8%    33.3%    -6.6%     38.7%

Middle East        13.4%    -11.6%  7.6%      -10.5%  48.7%

North America  27.2%    -5.7%     6.8%      -5.4%     41.1%

1 % of industry CTKs in 2021  2 Change in load factor   3 Load factor level

May Regional Performance

•             Asia-Pacific airlines saw their air cargo volumes decrease by 6.6% in May 2022 compared to the same month in 2021. This was a significant improvement over the 15.8% decline in April. Airlines in the region have been heavily impacted by lower trade and manufacturing activity due to Omicron-related lockdowns in China however this started to ease in May as restrictions were lifted. Available capacity in the region fell 7.4% compared to May 2021.

•             North American carriers posted a 5.7% decrease in cargo volumes in May 2022 compared to May 2021. Demand in the Asia-North America market remained subdued, however, other key routes such as Europe – North America remain strong. Capacity was up 6.8% compared to May 2021. Several carriers in the region are set to receive delivery of freighters this year, which should help address pent-up demand on routes where it is needed if economic headwinds don’t persist.

•             European carriers saw a 14.6% decrease in cargo volumes in May 2022 compared to the same month in 2021. This was the worst performance of all regions. This is attributable to the war in Ukraine. Labor shortages and lower manufacturing activity in Asia due to Omicron also affected volumes. Capacity increased 3.3% in May 2022 compared to May 2021. 

•             Middle Eastern carriers experienced a 11.6% year-on-year decrease in cargo volumes in May. Significant benefits from traffic being redirected to avoid flying over Russia failed to materialize. This is likely due to persisting supply chain issues in Asia. Capacity was up 7.6% compared to May 2021.

•             Latin American carriers reported an increase of 13.8% in cargo volumes in May 2022 compared to May 2021. This was the strongest performance of all regions. Airlines in this region have shown optimism by introducing new services and capacity, and in some cases investing in additional aircraft for air cargo in the coming months.  Capacity in May was up 33.3% compared to the same month in 2021. 

•             African airlines saw cargo volumes decrease by 1.5% in May 2022 compared to May 2021. This was significantly slower than the growth recorded the previous month (6.3%). Capacity was 3.0% above May 2021 levels.

View the May 2022 Air Cargo Market Analysis (pdf)