IATA: Air cargo volumes increase over 14% in May

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The air cargo industry has now clocked up the sixth consecutive month of double-digit year on year growth thanks to trade growth, e-commerce and oceanfreight capacity constraints, reported IATA.

Total demand in May, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), rose by 14.7% compared to May 2023 levels. There was also a 5.3% rise month on month.

“Air cargo demand moved sharply upwards in May across all regions,” said Willie Walsh, IATA director general. “The sector benefitted from trade growth, booming e-commerce and capacity constraints on maritime shipping. The outlook remains largely positive with purchasing managers showing expectations for future growth.

“Some dampening, however, could come as the US imposes stricter conditions on e-commerce deliveries from China. Increased costs and transit times for shipments under $800 may deter US consumers and pose significant challenges for growth on the Asia-North America trade lane—the world’s biggest.”

“Similar to the month before, the largest contributors to this strong annual rise in May were carriers from Asia Pacific and Europe, which together contributed roughly two thirds to the increase. These airlines represent, respectively, the largest and third largest region by traffic volume,” said IATA.

Capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), increased by 6.7% compared to May 2023. “This allowed the industry to set a record in global monthly capacity levels,” commented IATA.

Source: IATA

IATA’s data shows that African airlines saw the highest percentage growth in demand, with a rise of 18.4% year on year. Demand on the Africa-Asia market increased by 40.6% compared to May 2023.

Asia Pacific airlines continued to see strong demand, with a rise of 17.8%. Demand on the Africa-Asia trade lane grew by 40.6%, while the Europe-Asia, within Asia and Middle East-Asia trade lanes rose by 20.4%, 19.2% and 18.6% respectively. 

European carriers also had a solid result, achieving 17.2% growth. Intra-European air cargo rose by 25.6%, the fifth month in a row of double-digit annual growth. Europe–Middle East routes saw demand increase by 33.8%.  

Middle Eastern carriers saw 15.3% growth. The Middle East-Europe market performed particularly well with 33.8% annual growth, ahead of Middle East-Asia which grew by 18.6%.

Latin American carriers saw 12.7% growth, while North America was the weakest of all regions as carriers saw just 8.7% growth. However, demand on the Asia-North America trade lane grew by 12.%, while the North America-Europe route saw an increase of 8.9%, marking the largest demand growth for this route since mid-2022. 

International traffic was likely boosted by e-commerce and seafreight capacity constraints, noted IATA.

“Importantly, carriers from all regions experienced expansions in international traffic compared to May 2023,” said the trade body.

IATA’s report shows that a broadly strengthening economy is supporting air cargo growth.

In May, the Purchasing Managers Index (PMIs) for global manufacturing output and new export orders indicated expansion (52.6 and 50.4 respectively), while industrial production and global cross-border trade increased month on month in April (0.5% and 1.5% respectively).

There was a mixed picture for inflation. In the EU and Japan, inflation rates fell to 2.7% and 2.8% respectively, while rising in the US to 3.3%. In contrast, China’s inflation rate remained near zero (0.3%) reflecting weak domestic demand due to high unemployment, slow income growth, and a crisis in the real estate sector – a trend that has persisted since 2023.

Air cargo volumes rise 11% in April

IATA: March air cargo volumes up 10%

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Rebecca Jeffrey

Rebecca Jeffrey
New to aviation journalism, I joined Air Cargo News in late 2021 as deputy editor. I previously worked for Mercator Media’s six maritime sector magazines as a reporter, heading up news for Port Strategy. Prior to this, I was editor for Recruitment International (now TALiNT International). Contact me on: [email protected]