Severe Capacity Crunch in Air Cargo; ACTKs Down 42% in April 2020

IATA’s global air freight market data for April
2020 shows that demand dropped 27.7% compared to the same period
in 2019 – the sharpest fall ever recorded.

Still, there was
insufficient capacity to meet demand as a result of the loss of
belly cargo operations on passenger aircraft.

Global demand, measured in cargo tonne
kilometers (CTKs), fell by 27.7% in April when compared to the previous
year (-29.5% for international markets).

Global capacity, measured in available cargo tonne kilometers (ACTKs), shrank by 42% (down
-40.9% for international markets).

Belly capacity for international air cargo
shrank by 75%, though this was partially offset by a 15% increase in capacity through expanded
use of freighter aircraft.

Cargo load factor (CLF) rose 11.5 percentage
points in April, the largest increase since tracking began. The
magnitude of the rise suggests that there is significant demand
for air cargo which cannot be met owing to the cessation of most
passenger flights.


Boeing 747F. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com Click to enlarge.

“There is a severe capacity crunch in air cargo.
Demand fell by 27.7% compared to April 2019. But capacity was down
42% because of the sharp cuts in passenger operations which also
carry cargo,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General
and CEO. “The result is damaging global supply chains with longer
shipping times and higher costs. Airlines are deploying as much
capacity as possible, including special charter operations and the
temporary use of passenger cabins for cargo. Governments need to
continue to ensure that vital supply lines remain open and
efficient. While many have responded with speed and clarity to
facilitate the movement of cargo, government red-tape—particularly
in Africa and Latin America—is preventing the industry from 
flexibly deploying aircraft to meet the demands of the pandemic
and the global economy.”

Delays in getting operational permits issued,
blockages at the border and inadequate ground infrastructure
to/from and within airport environments continue to hamper air
cargo in countries in Africa and Latin America. Air cargo needs to
move efficiently throughout the entire supply chain to be
effective. IATA urges governments to:

– Accelerate approvals for cargo operations;

Expedite customs clearance for urgently needed medical supplies;
and
– Ensure there is adequate staff on the ground and land-based
infrastructure to move cargo efficiently.

Asia-Pacific airlines saw demand for international
air cargo fall by 28.1% in April 2020, compared to the same period
a year earlier. However, the large Asia-North America market
recorded less of a decline (7.3%) due to the rise in movement of
personal protective equipment (PPE). International capacity
decreased 42.5%.

North American carriers reported a fall in
international demand of 20.1% year-on-year in April. This was the
smallest contraction of all regions. While still a significant
drop, it remains less than the decline seen at the height of the
Global Financial Crisis in April 2009 (-32.3%). International
capacity decreased 27.7%.

European carriers reported a 33.8% annual drop in
international cargo volumes in April, much sharper than the
outcome for March (-18.5%). However, the large Europe-Asia market
recorded less of a decline due to the rise in movement of PPE.
International capacity decreased 46.9%.

Middle Eastern carriers reported a decline of
36.2% year-on-year in April, significantly worse than 14.1% fall
in March. Despite a number of carriers in the region maintaining
some cargo capacity, traffic on all key routes was low.
International capacity decreased 42.4%.

Latin American carriers posted the sharpest fall—a
38.9% year-on-year decline in international demand. International
capacity decreased 55.5%. The COVID19 crisis is particularly
challenging for airlines based in Latin America owing to strict
containment measures and a lack of support from Governments to
keep cargo moving.

African airlines were less affected by disruptions
from COVID19 than other regions in April. They saw year-on-year
international CTKs fall by 20.9%. The small Africa-Asia market was
the most resilient route in April, down only 1.0%. International
capacity decreased 36.6%.

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