The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released data for July 2023 global air cargo markets, showing a continuing trend of recovering growth rates since February.
The difference between the annual growth rates of air cargo and the global goods trade narrowed to -0.8 percentage points in June. While air cargo growth is still lagging world trade, the gap is the narrowest since January 2022.
In July, the global supplier delivery time PMI was 51.9, signaling fewer supply chain delays. All major economies, except China, had PMIs above 50. The U.S., Europe, and Japan recorded PMIs of 54.2, 57.7, and 50.4, respectively.
Inflation saw a mixed picture in July, with the increase in US consumer prices picking up pace for the first time in 13 months. Meanwhile, in China, both consumer and producer prices fell, pointing to a possible deflationary economy. IATA’s Director General, Willie Walsh, said compared to July 2022, demand for air cargo was basically flat.
“Considering we were 3.4 per cent below 2022 levels in June, that’s a significant improvement. And it continues a trend of strengthening demand that began in February. How this trend will evolve in the coming months will be something to watch carefully. Many fundamental drivers of air cargo demand, such as trade volumes and export orders, remain weak or are deteriorating.
“And there are growing concerns over how China’s economy is developing. At the same time, we are seeing shorter delivery times, which is normally a sign of increasing economic activity. Amid these mixed signals, strengthening demand gives us good reason to be cautiously optimistic,” Walsh said.
In the regional performances, African airlines had the strongest result in July 2023, with a 2.9 per cent increase in cargo volumes compared to July 2022. Notably, Africa–Asia routes experienced significant cargo demand growth (10.3 per cent). Capacity was 11.0 per cent above July 2022 levels.
Asia-Pacific airlines saw their air cargo volumes increase by 2.7 per cent in July 2023 compared to the same month in 2022. This was a significant improvement in performance compared to June (-3.3 per cent).
Carriers in the region benefited from growth on three major trade lanes: Europe-Asia (3.2 per cent year-on-year growth), Middle East-Asia (up from 1.8 per cent in June to 6.6 per cent in July), and Africa-Asia (returning to double-digit growth of 10.3 per cent year-on-year from -4.8 per cent in June).
Additionally, the within-Asia trade lane also performed considerably better in July, with an annual decline of international CTKs at 7.5 per cent compared with the double-digit decreases observed since September 2022. Available capacity in the region increased by 26.0 per cent compared to July 2022 as more belly capacity came online from the passenger side of the business.
North American carriers posted the weakest performance of all regions, with a 5.2 per cent decrease in cargo volumes in July 2023 compared to the same month in 2022, marking the fifth consecutive month in which the region had the weakest performance. It was, however, a slight improvement compared to June (-5.9 per cent).
The transatlantic route between North America and Europe saw traffic declining by 4.3 per cent in July, 1.2 percentage points worse than the previous month. Capacity increased 0.5 per cent compared to July 2022.