May air cargo buoyed by easing of Omicron restrictions in China

IATA released May 2022 data for global air cargo markets showing the easing of Omicron restrictions in China helped alleviate supply chain.
air cargo

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. 

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

Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General

View the May 2022 Air Cargo Market Analysis PDF 

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