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Steep dip in April air cargo demand: IATA


THE latest figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) show that air cargo recorded its steepest ever decline in volumes in April, but a greater reduction in capacity resulted in load factors jumping by the highest amount on record.

The statistics highlight the volatility experienced in the air cargo market in recent months, with demand in cargo tonne km (CTK) terms dropping by 27.7 per cent year on year in April, while capacity for was down by the greater amount of 42 per cent in terms of available CTK (ACTK). As a result, airlines saw their cargo load factor improve by 11.5 percentage points to 58 per cent.

"The magnitude of the rise suggests that there is significant demand for air cargo which cannot be met owing to the cessation of most passenger flights," IATA said.

IATA said that the capacity decline was largely the result of a 75 per cent reduction in belly capacity during the month, while freighter capacity increased by 15 per cent.

IATA director general and chief executive Alexandre de Juniac reiterated calls for governments to reduce the amount of red tape around cargo. "There is a severe capacity crunch in air cargo," he said.

"The result is damaging global supply chains with longer shipping times and higher costs. Airlines are deploying as much capacity as possible, including special charter operations and the temporary use of passenger cabins for cargo.

"Governments need to continue to ensure that vital supply lines remain open and efficient.

"While many have responded with speed and clarity to facilitate the movement of cargo, government red tape - particularly in Africa and Latin America - is preventing the industry from flexibly deploying aircraft to meet the demands of the pandemic and the global economy."

As for regional performance, IATA said that airlines based in Asia-Pacific saw demand for international air cargo fall by 31 per cent in April 2020, compared to the same period a year earlier. But, the large Asia-North America market recorded a lower 7.3 per cent decline due to the rise in movement of personal protective equipment (PPE).

North American carriers reported a fall in demand of 11.5 per cent year on year in April, which was the smallest contraction of all regions. "While still a significant drop, it remains less than the decline seen at the height of the global financial crisis in April 2009 (-32.3 per cent)," IATA said.

Europe-based airlines reported a 33.7 per cent drop in cargo volumes in April, much sharper than the outcome for March (-18.8 per cent).

In the Middle East, carriers reported a decline of 36.3 per cent year on year in April, significantly worse than 14.4 per cent fall in March.

Latin America-based airlines posted the sharpest fall - a 43.7 per cent year on year decline. Africa-based airlines saw year-on-year demand fall by 21.7 per cent.

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