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Global cargo demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), was up 7.7 percent in August 2021 compared to August 2019 (8.6 percent for international operations). 

Cargo markets are reflecting a strong growth trend but pressure on capacity is rising, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) August 2021 data analysis.

The pace of growth slowed slightly compared to July, which saw demand increase 8.8 percent (against pre-Covid-19 levels).

Cargo capacity recovery paused in August, down by 12.2 percent compared to August 2019 (13.2 percent for international operations). In month-on-month terms, capacity fell by 1.6 percent – the largest drop since January 2021.

“Air cargo demand had another strong month in August, up 7.7 percent compared to pre-Covid levels. Many of the economic indicators point to a strong year-end peak season. With international travel still severely depressed, there are fewer passenger planes offering belly capacity for cargo. And supply chain bottlenecks could intensify as businesses continue to ramp up production,” said Willie Walsh, Director General, IATA.   


August regional performance

Asia-Pacific airlines saw international air cargo volumes increase 3 percent in August 2021 compared to the same month in 2019.This was a slowdown compared to the previous month’s 4.4 percent expansion. International capacity is significantly constrained in the region, down 21.7 percent vs. August 2019.

North American carriers posted an 18 percent increase in international cargo volumes in August 2021 compared to August 2019. New export orders and demand for faster shipping times are underpinning the North American performance. International capacity declined 6.6 percent.

European carriers saw a 6 percent increase in international cargo volumes in August 2021 compared to the same month in 2019. This was on par with July’s performance. Manufacturing activity, orders and long supplier delivery times remain favorable to air cargo demand. International capacity decreased 13.6 percent.

Middle Eastern carriers experienced a 15.4 percent rise in international cargo volumes in August 2021 versus August 2019, an improvement compared to the previous month (13.4 percent). The large Middle East–Asia trade lanes continue to post strong performance. International capacity decreased 5.1 percent.

Latin American carriers reported a decline of 14 percent in international cargo volumes in August compared to the 2019 period, which was the weakest performance of all regions. Capacity remains significantly constrained in the region, with international capacity decreasing 27.1 percent in August, the largest fall of any region.

African airlines saw international cargo volumes increase by 33.9 percent in August, the largest increase of all regions. Investment flows along the Africa-Asia route continue to drive the regional outcomes with volumes on the route up 26.4 percent over two years ago. International capacity decreased 2.1 percent.

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