Reasons to be cheerful for air cargo in 2021

By Damian Brett

Well, what an end to the year that was. Just as we were ready to start winding down for the festive break, the shutters went up on the UK-France border — creating supply-chain chaos.

On top of that, there were preparations for the UK leaving the European Union, container port/shipping congestion, the temporary loss of Volga-Dnepr’s AN-124s (although at least one of these is now flying again) and the start of vaccine distribution operations.

But while there is no doubt that 2021 is going to be another tough year, there are reasons to be cheerful.

Based on air cargo demand projections, at least, it seems like 2021 will be an improvement on last year.

IATA is certainly expecting things to pick up. It is predicting that cargo volumes will increase by about 12% this year to bring demand back in line with 2019 levels.

And with passenger services likely to come back online only slowly over the next few years, belly capacity is sure to remain constrained, which should support further increases in cargo revenues.

IATA has also projected that the continued capacity crunch, combined with a higher proportion of time- and temperature-sensitive cargo, will see a further 5% increase in yields.

Others are also predicting another year of elevated rates.

While all this bodes well for the all-cargo sector, it should be remembered that many cargo businesses are reliant on the performance of the passenger side of aviation — and they are likely to face another tough 12 months.

But to end on a positive note, if projections prove to be correct, 2021 will be a better year for aviation and air cargo than last year and those that are dedicated to the cargo sector should hopefully enjoy another bumper — if busy — year.

Finally, the Air Cargo News team would like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers a happy and prosperous 2021. After the last 12 months, I think you all deserve it.

Damian Brett, editor, Air Cargo News

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