IATA: Mixed outlook as volumes decline again in December

Photo: Jaromir Chalabala/ Shutterstock

Air cargo volumes declined for the tenth month in a row in December and there are mixed signals for the year ahead, according to IATA.

Figures from the airline association show that demand in cargo tonne km (CTK) terms declined by 15.3% year on year in December and by 8% for the full year.

CTKs were down 1.6% on pre-Covid 2019 levels for the full year.

Meanwhile, capacity for the month was down by 2.2% in available CTK and load factors were 7.3 percentage points down on 2021 at 47.2%.

Looking ahead IATA said there were mixed signals as global new export orders, a leading indicator of cargo demand, have stayed at the same level since October and for major economies, new export orders are shrinking except in Germany, the US, and Japan, where they grew.  

Global goods trade decreased by 1.5% in November, down from a 3.4% increase in October, and inflation in producer (input) prices reduced to 12.7% in October, its lowest level so far in 2022. 

IATA director general Willie Walsh said: “In the face of significant political and economic uncertainties, air cargo performance declined compared to the extraordinary levels of 2021. That brought air cargo demand to 1.6% below 2019 (pre-pandemic) levels.

“The continuing measures by key governments to fight inflation by cooling economies are expected to result in a further decline in cargo volumes in 2023 to -5.6% compared to 2019.

“It will, however, take time for these measures to bite into cargo rates. So, the good news for air cargo is that average yields and total revenue for 2023 should remain well above what they were pre-pandemic.

“That should provide some respite in what is likely to be a challenging trading environment in the year ahead.”

Source: IATA

Looking at regional performance, Asia Pacific airlines posted an 8.8% decrease in demand in 2022 compared to 2021 and for December recorded the worst performance of all regions, posting a 21.2% decrease in demand.

“Airlines in the region continue to be impacted by lower levels of trade and manufacturing activity and disruptions in supply chains due to China’s rising Covid cases,” IATA said.

 North American carriers reported a 5.1% decrease in demand in 2022 compared to 2021 and in December airlines in the region reported an 8.5% decrease.

European carriers posted the worst year-on-year performance of all regions for the year with an 11.5% decrease while in December airlines in the region posted a 17.4% decrease.

“Airlines in the region continue to be most affected by the war in Ukraine,” IATA explained.

Middle Eastern carriers reported a decrease of 10.7% year-on-year decline in 2022 and in December there was a 14.4% decrease.

Latin American carriers posted the strongest year-on-year performance of all regions with a 13.1% increase in demand in 2022 and in December demand was flat on a year ago.

African airlines reported a decrease in demand of 1.4% in demand in 2022 and for December there was a 10.0% decrease.


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Damian Brett

Damian Brett
I have been writing about the freight and logistics industry since 2007 when I joined International Freighting Weekly to cover the shipping sector.After a stint in PR, I have gone on to work for Containerisation International and Lloyds List - where I was editor of container shipping - before joining Air Cargo News in 2015.Contact me on [email protected]