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In brief

  L      2022

March 2022 IATA Air Freight Market Analysis

Published May 3, 2022. IATA Economic Reports.

Air cargo volumes fall


  • Actual March industry-wide cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs) rose compared to February, but were 5.2% lower than a year ago.
  • Seasonally adjusted CTKs recorded a marked drop in March compared with February, with volumes falling to a 16- month low.
  • The strong recovery in fundamental drivers of air cargo such as manufacturing exports and trade started to slow in early 2021. This dampened gains in air cargo which has been trending sideways since then. Essentially, seasonally adjusted CTK volumes have not grown over the past year.
  • Now with the Omicron wave spreading in China and the Ukraine-Russia conflict continuing, the likelihood of air cargo having entered a downturn is mounting.
  • Carriers in the regions most impacted by these adverse developments, namely Asia Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East, recorded a fall in CTKs – compared to a year ago and month-on-month.

Africa airlines cargo volumes improve
African airlines saw cargo volumes increase by 3.1% in March 2022 compared to March 2021. Capacity was 8.7% above March 2021 levels. This improvement can be partly attributed to the base effect from the comparison with 2021. The conflict in Eastern Europe is creating significant fresh challenges, notably in air cargo rates and capacity as well as economic activity..

CTKs dip after year-long sideways trend

Industry-wide cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs) were down 5.2% in March year-on-year (YoY). Although January and February together recorded CTKs 2.7% above the same period in 2021, this level of increase was already notably lower than prior months, signaling a softening in demand. 

    Seasonally adjusted (SA) March air cargo volumes have fallen to a 16-month low, impacted by the conflict in Ukraine and the growing disruptions of Omicron in Asia.
    Seasonally adjusted (SA) CTKs fell by 8.8% month-onmonth (MoM) in March. While the MoM volumes can show significant volatility, especially during the period of the Chinese New Year (1 Feb in 2022), the challenges already mentioned corroborate the negative development we see in March. 

    The war in Ukraine led to a fall in the capacity used to serve Europe, as several airlines based in Ukraine and Russia were crucial carriers in the region. 

    The ongoing spread of Omicron in Asia, and China in particular, is causing new lockdowns and labor shortages. These have strongly impacted manufacturing centers in China and Asia that in turn have hurt air cargo transport in markets linked the region...Download the full report.