Oleg Sergeev: Air cargo grew slower than IATA expected in January

Air cargo growth in January 2022 was at least 6.6% lower than expected, and the outlook for the airline industry for the coming year is uncertain.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently summed up the results of air cargo transportation for the period from January 2021 to January 2022 inclusive. Comparing available data, IATA announced a slowdown in global air cargo growth compared to the forecast of 6.6% and an uncertain outlook for the aviation industry for the current year. Many air carriers, including Ukrainian ZetAvia, have been waiting for the latest monthly report of the association to learn first-hand about the changes and understand the potentials of the regions.

In its new report, IATA announced the main markers that allow assessing the state of the global air cargo market on an annualized basis and the situation in aviation in general. In January 2022, global air cargo demand in terms of cargo tonne-kilometers (CTK) increased by 2.7% compared to January 2021, but fell by 9.3% compared to December, according to IATA. Throughput for the month increased by 11.4% compared to last year, although this value is 8.9% below the pre-pandemic level. The load factor for the year decreased by 4.6% and amounted to 54.1%. It is also noted that the global purchasing managers index (PMI), which tracks new export orders around the world, fell to 37.8 points in January for the first time since August 2020, which in the current conditions indicates an increase in delivery times with a low stock-to-sales ratio. . The association blames supply chain disruptions due to flight cancellations, labor and capacity shortages, and deteriorating economic conditions as reasons for the slowdown in air cargo growth.

Air cargo grew slower than IATA expected in January
Air cargo grew slower than IATA expected in January

With a breakdown by region, the situation in January 2022, according to IATA, was as follows. European air carriers showed the strongest performance, with a 7% increase in cargo traffic and an 18.8% increase in throughput, which is two times lower than the pre-crisis level. Middle Eastern companies performed weaker than others in the first month, where the volume of air cargo transportation decreased by 4.6% due to the deterioration of traffic to Asia and North America. Asia-Pacific Airlines recorded a 4.9% year-on-year increase in cargo traffic in January, compared to a 12% increase in the previous month. Air carriers in North America reported a 1.2% decline in cargo traffic (down almost 6% from December) while increasing throughput by 8.7%. Air carriers in Latin America reported an increase in demand for cargo transportation in January by 11.9% compared to last year. African airlines achieved the highest results in January, having increased cargo traffic by 12.4% over the month.

The outlook for the air cargo industry for the current year was called uncertain by IATA, while emphasizing the high probability of growth in rates due to a possible decrease in capacity due to rising oil prices, shifts in industrial and economic activity and an unstable geopolitical situation. The association is not in a hurry to predict exactly how much the tariffs will rise and when it will happen. Airlines can only wait for the results of February and the first quarter of 2022 to make the first cautious forecasts in the short term.