Demand for air cargo transport slows

The International Air Transport Association has stated that the demand for air cargo transport in Africa slowed in May 2022 as against the previous year.

An IATA report revealed that the slowdown experienced by African airlines reflected geopolitical stresses and their economic ramifications being felt worldwide.

However, the IATA’s May 2022 data for global air cargo markets showed that the easing of Omicron restrictions in China helped to alleviate supply chain constraints and contributed to a performance improvement in May.

According to the report, the global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers was 8.3 per cent below May 2021 levels (-8.1 per cent for international operations). This was an improvement on the year-on-year decline of 9.1 per cent seen in April.

According to the travel body, air cargo performance is being impacted by several factors.

The report read in part, “Trade activity ramped up slightly in May as lockdowns in China due to Omicron were eased. Emerging regions also contributed to growth with stronger volumes.

New export orders, a leading indicator of cargo demand and world trade, decreased in all markets, except China.  The war in Ukraine continues to impair cargo capacity used to serve Europe as several airlines based in Russia and Ukraine were key cargo players.”

IATA’s Director-General, Willie Walsh, was quoted as saying, “May offered positive news for air cargo, most notably because of the easing of some Omicron restrictions in China. On a seasonally adjusted basis, we saw growth (0.3 per cent) after two months of decline.

“The return of Asian production as COVID-19 measures eased, particularly in China, will support demand for air cargo. And the strong rebound in passenger traffic has increased belly capacity, although not always in the markets where the capacity crunch is most critical. But uncertainty in the overall economic situation will need to be carefully watched.”

IATA said African airlines saw cargo volumes decrease by 1.5 per cent in May 2022 compared to May 2021.

This was significantly slower than the growth recorded in April (6.3 per cent). Capacity was 3.0 per cent above May 2021 levels.

The air cargo report is a useful barometer of global and regional economic activity and trade, in particular the manufacture and exports of high-value items like electronics, and perishable goods with short shelf lives, like pharmaceuticals, fruit, and cut flowers.

Article first published on the Punch Website

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