African Airlines’ cargo volumes rise 34.6%, air travel demand slips 62.2% in September – IATA

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released the September 2021 data for global air cargo markets showing that African airlines saw international cargo volumes increase by 34.6 per cent in September 2012.

The global airlines’ body said in a release issued in Geneva, Switzerland that it was the largest increase of all regions for the ninth consecutive month.

Seasonally adjusted volumes are now 20 per cent above pre-crisis 2019 levels but have been trending sideways for the past six months.

Data from other regions showed that Asia-Pacific airlines saw their international air cargo volumes increase 4.5 per cent in September 2021 compared to the same month in 2019.

North American carriers posted a 19.3 per cent increase in international cargo volumes in September 2021 compared to September 2019.

IATA said new export orders and demand for faster shipping times are underpinning the North American performance.

It added that international capacity was down 4.0 per cent compared to September 2019, a slight improvement from the previous month.

European carriers saw a 5.3 per cent increase in international cargo volumes in September 2021 compared to the same month in 2019.

Middle Eastern carriers experienced a 17.6 per cent rise in international cargo volumes in September 2021 versus September 2019, an improvement compared to the previous month (14.7 per cent).

International capacity was down 4 per cent compared to September 2019.

For Latin American carriers, international cargo volume declined by 17.1 per cent in September compared to the 2019 period.

According to IATA, the region’s carriers’ performance was the weakest of all regions.

It was also slightly worse than the previous month (a 14.5 per cent fall).

On the whole, the association said international capacity was 6.9 per cent higher than pre-crisis levels, the only region in positive territory, albeit on small volumes.

It further stated that global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), was up 9.1 per cent compared to September 2019 (9.4 per cent for international operations).

It added that capacity remains constrained at 8.9 per cent below pre-COVID-19 levels (September 2019) (-12 per cent for international operations).

“Air cargo demand grew 9.1% in September compared to pre-COVID levels. There is a benefit from supply chain congestion as manufacturers turn to air transport for speed. But severe capacity constraints continue to limit the ability of air cargo to absorb extra demand. If not addressed, bottlenecks in the supply chain will slow the economic recovery from COVID-19. Governments must act to relieve pressure on global supply chains and improve their overall resilience,” said IATA’s director general, Willie Walsh. 

Passenger traffick

For passenger demand, IATA said African airlines’ traffic fell 62.2 per cent in September 2021 almost 4 percentage points worse than the 58.5 percent decline in August compared to August 2019.

September capacity was down 49.3 per cent and load factor declined 18.4 percentage points to 53.7 per cent.

Data from other regions showed that European carriers’ September international traffic declined 56.9 per cent versus September 2019, down 1 percentage point compared to the 55.9 per cent decrease in August versus the same month in 2019.

Capacity dropped 46.3 per cent and load factor fell 17.2 percentage points to 69.6 per cent.

Asia-Pacific airlines saw their September international traffic fall 93.2 per cent compared to September 2019, virtually unchanged from the 93.4 per cent drop registered in August 2021 versus August 2019 as the region continues to have the strictest border control measures.

Middle Eastern airlines had a 67.1 per cent demand drop in September compared to September 2019, slightly improved over the 68.9 per cent decrease in August, versus the same month in 2019.

Capacity declined 52.6 per cent and load factor slipped 23.1 percentage points to 52.2 per cent.

North American carriers experienced a 61.0 per cent traffic drop in September versus the 2019 period, somewhat improved on the 59.3 per cent decline in August compared to August 2019.

Capacity dropped 47.6 per cent, and load factor fell 21.3 percentage points to 61.9 per cent.

Latin American airlines saw a 61.3 per cent drop in September traffic, compared to the same month in 2019, an upturn over the 62.6 per cent decline in August compared to August 2019.

September capacity fell 55.6 per cent and load factor dropped 10.7 percentage points to 72.0 per cent, which was the highest load factor among the regions for the 12th consecutive month.

Globally, IATA said there was moderate rebound in air travel in September 2021 compared to August’ performance.

It explained that the development was driven by recovery in domestic markets, in particular China, where some travel curbs were lifted following the COVID-19 outbreaks in August.

“Each re-opening announcement seems to come with similar but different rules. We cannot let the recovery get bogged down in complication.

“The ICAO High Level Conference on COVID-19 agreed that harmonisation should be a priority. The G20 declared a commitment to take action to support a recovery with seamless travel, sustainability, and digitalization.

“Now governments must put actions behind these words to realise simple and effective measures. People, jobs, businesses and economies are counting on real progress,” said Walsh.

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