Weak demand owing to rising inflation coupled with the armed conflict in Sudan have seen airlines in Africa record a 2.4pc decline in cargo demand in a year to May according to latest data by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
The drop in demand comes as the airlines recorded increased capacity year-on-year according to the May 2023 global air cargo markets by the association.
“Notably, the growth on the Africa to Asia trade route slowed significantly in May from 18.5pc in April to 11pc, possibly due to the impact of the conflict in Sudan since mid-April. Capacity in May was up 9.2pc compared to the same month in 2022,” said IATA.
IATA notes that global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), fell 5.2pc compared to May 2022 from a 6pc decline reported for international operations while capacity, as measured by available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), rose 14.5pc compared to May 2022 in what was primarily driven by belly capacity which increases as demand in the passenger business recovers. Capacity is now 5.9pc above May 2019 (pre-pandemic) levels.
“Trading conditions for air cargo continue to be challenging with a 5.2pc fall in demand and several economic indicators pointing towards weakness. The second half of the year, however, should bring some improvements. As inflation moderates in many markets, it is widely expected that central bank rate hikes will taper. This should help stimulate economic activity with a positive impact on demand for air cargo,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.
In Asia-Pacific region, airlines saw their air cargo volumes decrease by 3.3pc during the period compared to the same month in 2022 blamed on stronger annual contraction in international air cargo demand from -3.5pc in April to -6.4pc this month.
Available capacity in the region increased by 38.3pc compared to May 2022 as more belly capacity came online from the passenger side of the business.
North American carriers saw the weakest performance of all regions for the third consecutive month with an 8.1pc decrease in cargo volumes in May 2023 compared to the same month in 2022 as capacity increased 1.2pc, the association said.
European carriers and Middle Eastern carriers experienced a 6.7pc and 3.1pc year-on-year decrease in cargo volumes in May 2023 respectively.
Only Latin American carriers had the only positive performance in May 2023 posting a 3.6pc increase in cargo volumes compared to May 2022 when capacity was up 14.7pc compared to the same month in 2022.