Congestion in other modes of transport and the pandemic will contribute to the lack of air capacity and increase the demand for air cargo.
2022 could be another challenging year for the air cargo industry. If in the autumn most air cargo carriers, such as ZetAvia, hoped that the market could return to normal at the beginning of this year, then January and the first decade of February showed the opposite. It became clear that the appearance of the omicron and the ensuing blockages and restrictions would cause further disruptions. The two-week holidays in China, together with the Winter Olympics, which started recently in Beijing, may not be the best way for the industry.
The overall global situation remains uncertain in the first quarter of 2022 due to high omicron circulation in most countries, which negatively affects air traffic capacity, especially on trade routes between China and Hong Kong, where there are strict rules for pilots and crews. However, the continued lack of capacity in the market relative to demand, as well as problems with airport infrastructure and workforce, will continue to create additional challenges for the air cargo industry.
Despite a bleak start to the year, air cargo carriers are expecting demand to pick up throughout the first quarter, regardless of supply chain disruption and other possible headwinds. From the second and third quarters of 2022, airlines expect a slight reduction in rates, then some stabilization and then seasonal growth in September. Overall, the market is expected to be about the same as in 2021, but the possibility of new strains should be taken into account, as well as the limited number of additional cargo aircraft that will be delivered to the market.
The ongoing impact of Covid-19 is showing no signs of slowing down and market participants should clearly not expect a return to business as usual in the near term. Circumstances require air carriers to be flexible in terms of pricing, transit times and routing options, adaptability, digitalisation, and closer collaboration with industry partners and customers. All these components will help to increase the efficiency of work and reduce the possible risks that exist during a pandemic.
It remains to be hoped that omicron will be the beginning of the end of the pandemic raging on the planet for the third year in a row.