Air cargo demand lifts, but capacity constraints a worry: IATA

September 29, 2021

GENEVA - August 2021 data released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for global air cargo markets shows demand continuing its strong growth trend -- but pressure on capacity is rising. 

Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometres, was up 7.7% compared to August 2019 (8.6% for international operations). Overall growth remained strong compared to the long-term average growth trend of around 4.7%.

The pace of growth slowed slightly compared to July, which saw demand increase 8.8% (against pre-COVID-19 levels).

Cargo capacity recovery paused in August, down 12.2% compared to August 2019  13.2% for international operations). In month-on-month terms, capacity fell by 1.6% - the largest drop since January 2021. 

IATA said economic conditions continued to support air cargo growth but were slightly weaker than in the previous months, indicating that global manufacturing growth had peaked:

The August manufacturing output component of the Purchasing Managers Indices (PMIs) was 51.9, indicating a short-term boost to demand if those orders are shipped by air. This was a decline from 54.4 in July. 

The August new export orders component of the PMIs was favourafor air cargo, despite being less supportive than in the previous months. Expansion continued at the global level, but there was contraction in edmerging economies. 

The inventory-to-sales ratio remains low ahead of the peak year-end retail season. This was positive for air cargo, however further capacity constraints put this at risk. 

IATAM said many economic indicators pointed to a strong year-end peak season, but  with international travel still severely depressed, there were fewer passenger planes offering belly capacity for cargo.


Supply chain bottlenecks could intensify as businesses continue to ramp up production," said Willie Walsh, IATA's Director General. (ATI).