Oleg Sergeev: Air cargo demand in the Middle East fell much less than in other regions

IATA called 2020 the worst year for air cargo demand in 30 years. The association reported a 10.6% decline in annual demand for air cargo, the largest drop since demand trends began recording in 1990.

IATA sees the drop as a result of a lack of additional capacity, as well as global blockages in the first few months since the start of the pandemic that disrupted air travel supply chains until around May.

Loading cargo onto an aircraft
Loading cargo onto an aircraft

According to IATA, airlines based in the Middle East fell 9.5% year on year in freight demand. This figure inspires me with optimism against the backdrop of much stronger declines in other regions. Even despite the decline in regional capacities in the Middle East by 20.9%. For example, sales of European airlines decreased by 16% in comparison with the previous year. In Latin America, operators recorded a drop in demand by 21.3%, in the Asia-Pacific region by 15.2%. The capacities of these two regional markets also dropped significantly - from 21 to 35%.

The conclusions of the association on a difficult year for companies operating in the aviation industry are confirmed by the volume of cargo transportation carried out during the pandemic by the airline ZetAvia operating in this region.

Massive capacity shortages due to air travel restrictions introduced during the year pushed fares, which peaked in April and May and rose again during the traditional peak season towards the end of the year.

The association also said that in 2020, the air cargo load factor grew by 7.7%, thus recording a record growth of 54.5%.