The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for January 2023 global air cargo markets showing that air cargo demand declined as economic headwinds persist.
- Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs*), fell 14.9% compared to January 2022 (-16.2% for international operations).
- Capacity (measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers, ACTK) was up 3.9% compared to January 2022. This was the first year-on-year growth in capacity since October 2022. International cargo capacity increased 1.4% compared to January 2022. The uptick in ACTKs reflects the strong recovery of belly capacity in passenger airline markets offsetting a decline international capacity offered by dedicated freighters.
- Several factors in the operating environment should be noted:
- The global new export orders component of the manufacturing PMI, a leading indicator of cargo demand, increased in January for the first time since October 2022. For major economies, new export orders are growing, and in China and the US, PMI levels are close to the critical 50-mark indicating that demand for manufactured goods from the world’s two largest economies is stabilizing.
- Global goods trade decreased by 3.0% in December, this was the second monthly decline in a row.
- The Consumer Price Index for G7 countries decreased from 7.4% in November to 6.7% in January. Inflation in producer (input) prices reduced by 2.2 percentage points to 9.6% in December.
With January cargo demand down 14.9% and capacity up 3.9%, 2023 began under some challenging business conditions. That was accompanied by persistent uncertainties, including war in Ukraine, inflation, and labor shortages. But there is solid ground for some cautious optimism about air cargo.
Yields remain higher than pre-pandemic. And China’s much faster than expected shift from its zero COVID policy is stabilizing production conditions in air cargo’s largest source market. That will give a much-needed demand boost as companies increase their engagement with China.Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General