Air cargo demand still above pre-pandemic levels in August 2021

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Air cargo demand continued above pre-pandemic levels in August 2021, according to data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Global demand, measured in cargo ton-kilometers was up 7.7% compared to August 2019. That also remains strong compared to the long-term average growth trend of approximately 4.7%, IATA said on September 29, 2021. 

The pace of growth did slow down slightly from July 2021, when 8.8% growth was recorded, IATA noted, saying economic conditions were continuing to support air cargo but were slightly weaker than in previous months.

However, the recovery in capacity available to transport goods “paused” in August 2021. It was down 12.2% compared to August 2019, mostly as a function of the grounding of passenger planes, but was also down 1.6% from the previous month. That makes it the largest month-on-month drop since January 2021. 

IATA director general Willie Walsh said signs were still pointing towards a strong end to the year, the peak season for air freight.

“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 Walsh.

The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) on September 28, 2021, noted bottlenecks in China when it reported traffic data for August 2021, which helped to drive demand for air freight as opposed to other forms of transport.

“Supply congestion in major exporting ports such as in China increased demand for the transportation of merchandise by air, contributing to the 26.0% year-on-year growth in international air cargo demand as measured in freight ton kilometers (FTK) in August,” AAPA said in a statement.



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