IATA: 2021 Was A Phenomenal Year for Air Cargo

Photo Credit: Karam Sodhi/AviationSource

LONDON – IATA has announced that 2021 was a phenomenal year for the global Air Freight market as the year-round demand for Air Cargo significantly increased by 6.9% in 2021.

December 2021 was the strongest growth month for the Air Cargo sector, stated the data released by the IATA.

Since the concept of cargo performance monitoring was established in 1990, this was seen to be the second biggest improvement in year-on-year demand, with the 2010s 20.6% still leading the charts.

According to the data released, the North American Carriers have witnessed the strongest performance with an annual increase in international demand of 20.2%, while the Middle East and African carriers have reported double-digit growth in 2021 standing at 10.6%, and 11.3% respectively, as compared to 2019 figures.

The report has further given a detailed analysis with numbers being compared between 2019 and 2020.

AviationSource has given a glance at it by denoting remarkable moves:

  • Global demand in 2021 in Cargo Tonne Kilometres (CKTs) was increased by 6.9% compared to that of 2019 (7.4% for international operations).
  • Available Cargo Tonne Kilometres (ACTKs) capacity in 2021 10.9% below to that of 2019 levels (12.8% for international operations). The reason for is linked to the constrained bottlenecks at key cargo hubs.
  • Substantial improvements were witnessed in December 2021, when global demand was recorded at 8.9% above 2019 levels of 9.4% for international operations. Same improvements were witnessed in November at 3.9% and remarkable in April 2021 with 11.4%.
  • Global goods trade increased by 7.7% in November compared to that of pre-crisis levels. With global industrial production was significantly increased by 4% over the same era.
  • As the inventory to sale ration has remained the same at its low levels, this has provided the boon for the air cargo as the manufacturers are inclined towards air cargo connectivity for rapid distribution.
  • The sudden spike in second wave and third wave of Covid-19 transmissions across the globe created stronger demand for the air cargo to supply the essentials goods and medical supplies to fight against the infections.

Speaking on report release, IATA Director General Mr. Willie Walsh expressed:

“Air cargo had a stellar year in 2021. For many airlines, it provided a vital source of revenue as passenger demand remained in the doldrums due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.”

“Growth opportunities, however, were lost due to the pressures of labor shortages and constraints across the logistics system. Overall, economic conditions do point towards a strong 2022.”

Mr. Walsh further asserted:

“Some relief on supply chain constraints occurred naturally in December as volumes decreased after peak shipping activity ended in advance of the Christmas holiday.”

“This freed capacity to accommodate front-loading of some Lunar New Year shipments to avoid potential disruptions to flight schedules during the Winter Olympic Games.”

“And overall December cargo performance was assisted by additional belly-hold capacity as airlines accommodated an expected year-end boost to travel.”

“As shortages of labor and storage capacity remain, governments must keep a sharp focus on supply chain constraints to protect the economic recovery.”


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