Air cargo continued to perform well in May. Cargo tonne-kilometres (CTKs) increased by 9.4% compared with the pre-pandemic May 2019, although this was down from the 11.3% growth recorded in April 2021 versus 2019.
Notably, global goods trade grew by 5.2% in April 2021, which was slower than that of CTKs. When an economic upturn begins, CTKs typically grow faster than other modes of transport and are often explained by inventory restocking cycles. As businesses with low inventories face rising demand, the speed of air cargo makes it an extremely appealing option.
Likewise, air cargo is also currently benefitting from congested container supply chains, global shipping schedule delays and further added pressure from slowed operations in South China. As a result, the price of air cargo relative to container shipping has fallen significantly. Per kg of chargeable weight, air cargo was 12x more expensive than ocean shipping prior to the pandemic and it has now fallen to just 6x.
While current supply chain conditions and economic activity are supportive of air cargo, there are signs of stabilisation in manufacturing output growth as consumption shifts from goods to services.
Air cargo capacity is still gradually improving, even with the lack of international passenger traffic. Many airlines are continuing to operate costly passenger-freighters, but some services may soon be discontinued as long-haul passenger traffic resumes and exemptions allowing cargo to be transported in the main cabin of aircraft are lifted.
There has been no decline in cargo load factors, which continue to trend above pre-pandemic levels. The industry-wide cargo load factor was 57.2% in May 2021 (10 percentage points above May 2019). Global air cargo rates including surchargers increase by more than 90% in comparison with May 2019, and revenues rose more than 70%.
There was a widespread, moderate slowdown in cargo growth on key trade lanes in May, including Europe-Asia, Middle East-Asia, Within Europe and Within Asia. Consequently, there was a small slowdown in international CTKs growth for airlines in the Middle East (14.1% growth), Europe (5.7% growth) and Asia Pacific (5.3% growth). A more significant slowdown is unlikely in the near future.
With demand for air freight services high, our global experts are working hard to find the right solutions to meet our customers’ requirements. If you have cargo you need to move urgently, or if you would like to find out more about our range of air and sea-air services, please get in touch today for an informal chat: firstname.lastname@example.org