Global air cargo demand rises again in October

An Emirates Sky Cargo aircraft unloads emergency aid supplies in Pakistan
Photo Credit: Emirates Sky Cargo

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for October 2023 global air cargo markets indicating the third consecutive month of stronger year-on-year demand.

Regional variations again highlight the dynamic nature of the industry, with the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East leading the way.

Rising Global Demand: A Positive Trajectory

Global Demand Surges: The demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometres (CTKs), showcased a robust increase of 3.8% compared to October 2022.

While international operations experienced a slightly lower growth rate at 3.5%, the overall trend suggests a positive trajectory in the air cargo sector.

Capacity Boost: The available cargo tonne-kilometres (ACTKs) witnessed a substantial rise of 13.1% compared to the same period last year, with international operations seeing an 11.1% increase.

This surge is predominantly attributed to the growth in belly capacity, particularly in the international markets where passenger demand has strengthened.


Etihad affiliate link banner
An Air Canada Cargo freighter aircraft is loaded.
Photo Credit: Air Canada

Operating Environment Factors

Several factors in the operating environment merit attention:

Economic Slowdown: Economic activities experienced a slowdown in October, as indicated by the Purchasing Managers’ Index and export orders remaining below the critical 50 mark. This serves as a clear marker for impending economic challenges.

Inflation Trends: In major advanced economies, inflation, measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), showed signs of easing, reaching between 3% and 4% for the US and the EU.

However, China’s CPI hinted at deflation for the second time this year, raising concerns of an economic slowdown.

Global Trade Stabilization: After a dip in the preceding months, global trade reversed its downward trajectory, stabilizing in September. Although below its 2022 peak, global cross-border trade is more than 5% above pre-pandemic levels.

Cargo Yields: Cargo yields, after a continuous 17-month decline, saw a 2.6% month-on-month gain in September, maintaining levels well above pre-pandemic standards.

Insights from IATA’s Director General

Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General, remarked on the positive trends: “Demand for air cargo was up 3.8% in October. That marks three consecutive months of year-on-year growth, placing air cargo on course to end 2023 on a much stronger footing than it began the year.”

However, Walsh balanced optimism with caution, highlighting that demand is still 2.4% below pre-pandemic levels, and uncertainties linger over the global economy’s trajectory.

A strong peak year-end season, though, could provide resilience through potential economic shifts in 2024.

Regional Performance Breakdown

Asia-Pacific Airlines

Solid Growth: Asia-Pacific airlines witnessed a commendable 7.6% increase in air cargo volumes in October 2023 compared to the same period in 2022.

Key trade lanes, such as Africa-Asia, Middle East-Asia, and Europe-Asia, contributed to this growth, with available capacity soaring by 30.0%.

Taipei: China Airlines To Sell Five Boeing 747-400 Freighters

North American Carriers

Challenges Persist: North American carriers faced challenges with a 1.8% decrease in cargo volumes year-on-year.

Despite improvements in specific trade lanes, overall performance remained subdued, with a modest 2.4% increase in capacity compared to October 2022.

European Carriers

Steady Progress: European carriers experienced a 1.0% increase in air cargo volumes in October compared to the same month in 2022.

Notable growth in international CTKs within Europe and the Middle East-Europe trade lane contributed to this positive performance, with capacity rising by 7.0%.

Middle Eastern Carriers

Exceptional Growth: Middle Eastern carriers demonstrated the strongest performance with a remarkable 10.9% year-on-year increase in cargo volumes.

Growth in the Middle East–Asia and Middle East–Europe markets fueled this surge, with a 15% increase in capacity compared to October 2022.

Latin American Carriers

Positive Momentum: Latin American carriers experienced a 4.0% increase in cargo volumes, surpassing the previous month’s gain. Capacity also saw a notable 8.3% rise compared to October 2022.

African Airlines

Recovery Continues: African airlines witnessed a 2.9% increase in air cargo volumes, showcasing improvement from September’s performance.

Key trade lanes, such as Africa-Asia, played a pivotal role, contributing to a 9.8% increase in capacity compared to October 2022.

Click the banner to subscribe to our weekly newsleter.

Click the photo to join our WhatsApp channel so then you can stay up to date with everything going on in the aviation industry!

By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 5 Min Read
5 Min Read
You Might Also Enjoy