IATA's global air freight data shows that demand,
when measured in cargo tonne kilometers (CTKs), decreased by 3.3%
in January 2020, compared to the same period in 2019.
Since January 2020 onwards, IATA has changed the
terminology it uses from ‘Freight’ to ‘Cargo’ and the
corresponding metrics have changed from FTK to CTK, AFTK to ACTK,
and FLF to CLF. Individual airline data retain the FTK metric,
"January marked the tenth consecutive month of
year-on-year declines in cargo volumes," said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
"The air cargo industry started the year on a weak footing. There
was optimism that an easing of US-China trade tensions would give
the sector a boost in 2020. But that has been overtaken by the
COVID19 outbreak, which has severely disrupted global supply
chains, although it did not have a major impact on January’s cargo
performance. Tough times are ahead. The course of future events is
unclear, but this is a sector that has proven its resilience time
Cargo capacity, measured in available cargo tonne
kilometers (ACTKs), rose by 0.9% year-on-year in January 2020.
Capacity growth has now outstripped demand growth for 21
It is unlikely that the COVID19 outbreak had very
much to do with January’s weak performance. Lunar New Year in 2020
was earlier than in 2019. This skewed 2020 numbers towards
weakness as many Chinese manufacturers would be closed for the
holiday period. February performance will give a better picture of
how COVID19 is impacting global air cargo.
Airlines in Asia-Pacific and Europe suffered sharp
declines in year-on-year growth in total air cargo volumes in
January 2020, while North American and Middle East carriers
experienced a more moderate decline. Latin America and Africa were
the only regions to record growth in air freight demand compared
to January 2019.
Asia-Pacific airlines saw demand for air
cargo contract by 5.9% in January 2020, compared to the
year-earlier period. This was the sharpest drop in freight demand
of any region for the month. Capacity growth was flat.
Seasonally-adjusted cargo demand rose slightly however, following
the thawing of US-China trade relations. The impact from COVID19
is expected to affect February’s performance.
North American airlines saw demand decrease by
1.3% in January 2020, compared to the same period a year earlier.
Capacity increased by 3.4%. Seasonally-adjusted cargo demand rose
slightly however, amid a more supportive operating environment and
following the thawing of US-China trade relations.
European airlines posted a 3.7% decrease in cargo
demand in January 2020 compared to the same period a year earlier
– more than double the 1.3%% drop in year-on-year demand in
December. Seasonally-adjusted demand also dropped sharply,
disrupting the positive trend that started mid-2019. Capacity
decreased by 3.0% year-on-year.
Middle Eastern airlines’ cargo volumes decreased
1.4% in January 2020 compared to the year-ago period. Capacity
increased by 2.9%. Against a backdrop of operational and
geopolitical challenges facing some of the region’s key airlines,
seasonally-adjusted freight volumes ticked down in January, but a
modest upwards trend has been sustained. However, given the Middle
East’s position connecting trade between China and the rest of the
world, the region’s carriers have significant exposure to the
impact of COVID19 in the period ahead.
Latin American airlines experienced an increase in
freight demand in January 2020 of 1.4% compared to January 2019 –
reversing the 2.5% decrease in December. Seasonally-adjusted
freight volumes in the region also ticked upwards, underpinned by
new route connections, which is a positive development for the
region’s carriers. Capacity increased by 2.4%year-on-year.
African carriers posted the fastest growth of any
region for the 11th consecutive month in January 2020, with an
increase in demand of 6.8% compared to the same period a year
earlier. Growth on the smaller Africa-Asia trade lanes (up 12.4%
in 2019) contributed to the positive performance. Capacity grew