International air freight volumes continue to fall, says IATA

AIR FREIGHT volumes fell nearly 13 per cent worldwide in August compared to last year reports the International Air Transport Association (IATA), reports Bloomberg News.

August volume was up almost two per cent, compared to July, while freight capacity fell more than 29 per cent in August.

The slow recovery is surprising since limited capacity is expected to hold back further growth. International belly capacity was down 67 per cent in August, which is trending upward compared to 71 per cent in July. Meanwhile, Dedicated freighter capacity is up 28 per cent.

New export orders were up 5.1 per cent in the manufacturing PMI, which could mean a growing demand for goods movement as consumer spending rose through May, June, and July. Still, capacity limits mean airfreight volume can only grow what they can do.

The loss of air freight capacity has resulted in a booming business for the companies in the dedicated freighter business since March.

"There are two trends that have had substantial impact on our industry. The first key trend is the dramatic reduction of air cargo capacity as a result of the significant loss of commercial airline capacity, " said FedEx marketing chief Brie Carere.

Freighter capacity is roughly 66 per cent of the total capacity on the transatlantic lane, 83 per cent on the transpacific, and 80 per cent on the Europe-to-Asia lane.

"This compares to pre-Covid freighter capacity of 33 per cent for transatlantic, 59 per cent for transpacific and 50 per cent for Europe to Asia. FedEx Express is incredibly well-positioned to benefit from a constrained air capacity market," said Mrs Carere.

"In the month of September, we're planning on having 1,000 dedicated cargo charter flights with no passengers, just belly cargo, and serving some really important markets," said American Airlines President Robert Isom.

Regardless of this, dedicated flights from passenger airlines won't be enough to boost the capacity to pre-pandemic levels. As a result, prices will remain high for months. Rates between China, Hong Kong, and the US are up 58 per cent US$5.15 per kilogramme.

Meanwhile, exports out of the Hong Kong International Airport rose almost one per cent.

"The peak season for air cargo will start in the coming weeks, but with severe capacity constraints shippers may look to alternatives such as ocean and rail to keep the global economy moving," said IATA chief Alexandre de Juniac.

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