Oleg Sergeev: Air cargo volumes recovered in 2021 despite pandemic

Leading experts are trying to understand what the aviation industry will face this year. Analysts give two opposite scenarios for the development of events, with one of them I am ready to agree.

Some of them think that due to the possible strengthening of coronavirus restrictions, 2021 will be as difficult as 2020. Others believe that by the summer, everything will be fine due to mass vaccinations of the population and the easing of restrictions. When making forecasts, they rely on statistics, their own experience and regional markets. The number of negative and positive scenarios is approximately the same.

Air cargo volumes recovered in 2021 despite pandemic
Air cargo volumes recovered in 2021 despite pandemic

Now one thing is for sure - volumes and demand in 2021 have recovered to pre-crisis levels. And I, as an optimist, hope that this year will be successful for the industry. The same opinion is shared by a leading analyst at CLIVE Data Services, who was impressed by the results of comparing the indicators of 2021 with the data for 2019 and 2020. Statistics showed that in just ten months, global volumes recovered to pre-crisis levels. And this happened despite the 39% drop recorded in April. For me, the conclusion is obvious - better times are ahead.

The latest data from the CLIVE Data Services and TAC Index report show that air cargo capacity in February 2021 was 8% lower than in 2019 and 5% lower than in 2020. Last month, the CLIVE dynamic load factor, calculated based on both the volume and weight of the transported cargo and the available power, increased by 5% compared to February 2019 and by 9% compared to February 2020. The overall dynamic load factor in February (69%) was at the same level as in January 2021. And monthly volumes rose 7%, despite February being three days shorter than January, as capacity was up 5% from January. The positive outlook for this year is confirmed, for example, by an increase in volumes from China to Europe, which were almost five times higher in the four weeks of February 2021 than in the same weeks in 2020. Volumes from Europe declined 11% over the same time period.

Given the high financial risks when it comes to increasing capacity and increasing demand for cargo transportation, airlines are more likely to follow the market rather than try to stimulate it. This means that companies that already have their own cargo aircraft will benefit. For example, the airline ZetAvia, which has five IL-76 transport aircraft, which fly with the same frequency in the conditions of the pandemic as before the crisis.

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