Muscat: Middle Eastern carriers experienced a 15.0 per cent year-on-year decrease in cargo volumes in October 2022. This was a marginal improvement to the previous month (-15.8 per cent). Stagnant cargo volumes to/from Europe impacted the region’s performance. Capacity increased by 1.0 per cent compared to October 2021.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for October 2022 global air cargo markets showing that headwinds continue to affect air cargo demand.
Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometres (CTKs*), fell 13.6 per cent compared to October 2021 (-13.5 per cent for international operations).
Capacity was 0.6 per cent below October 2021. This was the first year-on-year contraction since April 2022, however, month-on-month capacity increased by 2.4 per cent in preparation for the year-end peak season. International cargo capacity grew 2.4 per cent compared to October 2021.
Several factors in the operating environment should be noted:
New export orders, a leading indicator of cargo demand, are shrinking in all markets except China and South Korea, which registered slightly higher new export orders in October.
Latest global goods trade figures showed a 5.6 per cent expansion in September, a positive sign for the global economy. This is expected to primarily benefit maritime cargo, with a slight boost to air cargo as well.
The US dollar has seen a sharp appreciation, with the broad real effective exchange rate in September 2022 reaching the highest level since 1986. A strong dollar affects air cargo. As many costs are denominated in dollars, the currency’s appreciation adds another layer of cost on top of high inflation and high jet fuel prices.
The Consumer Price Index increased slightly in G7 countries in October and remains at a decades high level of 7.8 per cent. Inflation in producer (input) prices reduced by 0.5 percentage points to 13.3 per cent in September.
“Air cargo continues to demonstrate resilience as headwinds persist. Cargo demand in October - while tracking below the exceptional performance of October 2021 - saw a 3.5 per cent increase in demand compared to September. This indicates that the year-end will still bring a traditional peak-season boost despite economic uncertainties. But as 2022 closes out it appears that the current economic uncertainties will follow into the New Year and need continued close monitoring,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.
October regional performance
Asia-Pacific airlines saw their air cargo volumes decrease by 14.7 per cent in October 2022 compared to the same month in 2021. This was a decline in performance compared to September (-10.7 per cent). Airlines in the region continue to be impacted by the war in Ukraine, and lower levels of trade and manufacturing activity due to Omicron-related restrictions in China. Available capacity in the region decreased by 2.8 per cent compared to 2021.
North American carriers posted an 8.6 per cent decrease in cargo volumes in October 2022 compared to the same month in 2021. This was a decline in performance compared to September (-6.0 per cent). Capacity increased by 2.4 per cent compared to October 2021.
European carriers saw an 18.8 per cent decrease in cargo volumes in October 2022 compared to the same month in 2021. This was the worst performance of all regions and a decline in performance compared to September (-15.6 per cent). This is attributable to the war in Ukraine. High inflation levels, most notably in Türkiye, also affected volumes. Capacity decreased by 5.2 per cent in October 2022 compared to October 2021.
Latin American carriers reported a decrease in demand of 1.4 per cent in cargo volumes in October 2022 compared to October 2021. This was the strongest performance of all regions, however, it still was a significant decline in performance compared to September (10.8 per cent). This was the first decline in volumes since March 2021. Capacity in October was up 19.2 per cent compared to the same month in 2021.
African airlines saw cargo volumes decrease by 8.3 per cent in October 2022 compared to October 2021. This was a significant decrease in the growth recorded the previous month (0.1 per cent). Capacity was 7.4 per cent below October 2021 levels.