(04 Feb 2021)
for air cargo decreased by 10.6% in 2020, the largest drop in
year-on-year demand since IATA started
monitoring cargo performance in 1990, outpacing the 6% fall in
global trade in goods.

Global demand in 2020, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers
(CTKs), was 10.6% below 2019 levels (-11.8% for international

Global capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), shrank by 23.3% in 2020 (24.1% for
international operations) when compared to 2019.

Due to the lack of
available capacity, cargo load factors rose 7.7% in 2020. This
contributed to increased yields and revenues, providing support to
airlines and some long-haul passenger services in the face of
collapsed passenger revenues.

Global Africa Aviation Cargo McDonnell Douglas MD-11F reg: Z-GAA. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com Click to enlarge.

Improvements towards year-end
were demonstrated in December when global demand was 0.5% below
previous-year levels (-2.3% for international operations). Global
capacity was 17.7% below previous-year levels (20.6% for
international operations). That is much deeper than the
contraction in demand, indicating the continuing and severe
capacity crunch. With the stalling of the recovery in passenger
markets, there is no end in sight for the capacity crunch.

Economic conditions are picking up as we move into 2021.
The new export orders component of the manufacturing Purchasing
Managers Index (PMI) is in growth territory in both developed
and emerging markets. And global industrial production has also

“Air cargo is surviving the crisis in
better shape than the passenger side of the business. For many
airlines, 2020 saw air cargo become a vital source of revenues,
despite weakened demand. But with much of the passenger fleet
grounded, meeting demand without belly capacity continues to be an
enormous challenge. And, as countries strengthen travel
restrictions in the face of new coronavirus variants, it is
difficult to see improvements in passenger demand or the capacity
crunch. 2021 will be another tough year,” said Alexandre de Juniac,
IATA’s Director General and CEO.

Strong variations were
evident in the regional performance of air cargo in 2020. North
American and African carriers reported an annual gain in demand in
2020 (+1.1% and +1.0%, respectively), while all other regions remained in negative territory compared to 2019. International
demand fell in all regions with the exception of Africa which
posted a 1.9% increase in 2020 compared to the previous year.

Asia-Pacific airlines reported a decline in demand of
15.2% in 2020 compared to 2019 (-13.2% for international operations) and a fall in capacity of 27.4% (-26.2% for
international operations). In December airlines in the region
posted a 3.9% decrease in international demand compared to the
previous year. After a pause in recovery in Q3, demand is
improving, driven by a rebound in manufacturing activity and
export orders from China and South Korea. International capacity
remained constrained in December, down 25.1%.

North American carriers posted a 1.1% increase in demand in 2020
compared to 2019 (-5.2% for international operations) and a fall
in capacity of 15.9% (-19.7% for international operations). In
December carriers in the region posted an increase of 3.1% in
international demand. This was the strongest monthly performance
since late 2018. Strong traffic on the Asia-North America routes,
which was up 2.1% in 2020, contributed to the performance, driven
by strong demand from North American consumers for goods
manufactured in Asia. Capacity remained constrained, down 14.1% in

European carriers reported a 16.0% drop in
demand in 2020 compared to 2019 (-16.2% for international
operations) and a fall in capacity of 27.1% (-27.1% for
international operations). In December airlines posted a decrease
in international demand of 5.6% compared to the previous year.
After a pause in recovery in November, seasonally adjusted demand
grew 7% month-on-month in December, the largest rise of all
regions. However, new lockdowns and adverse economic conditions in
the region risk the recovery. Lack of capacity remains a
challenge, as international capacity decreased 19.4% in December.

Middle Eastern carriers reported a decline in
demand of 9.5% in 2020 compared to 2019 (-9.5% for international
operations) and a fall in capacity of 20.9% (-20.6% for
international operations). After a slight slowdown in recovery in
November, carriers in the region performed well in December,
posting a 2.3% increase in international demand. International
capacity decreased by 18.2% in December, unchanged from November.

Latin American carriers reported a decline in
demand of 21.3% in 2020 compared to 2019 (-20.3% for international
operations) and a fall in capacity of 35% (-33.6% for
international operations). In December international cargo volumes
fell by 19.0% compared to the previous year. Air cargo recovery in
the region has been affected by adverse economic conditions in
markets such as Mexico, Argentina and Peru. Capacity remains
highly constraint in the region. International capacity decreased
in December by 36.7%, a steepening of the 30.4% fall in November.

African airlines saw demand grow by 1.0% in 2020
compared to 2019 (1.9% for international operations) and a fall in
capacity of 17.3% (-15.8% for international operations). African
airlines posted the strongest international growth of all regions
in 2020 as well as in December. International demand in the month
grew by 6.3% year-on-year. African airlines now have the same
share of the global international cargo market as carriers from
Latin America (2.4%). International capacity decreased by 21.6% in
December, a steepening of the 18.6% fall in November.

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