Air cargo demand recovers to pre-Covid levels, latest IATA data reveals

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released January 2021 data for global air cargo markets showing that air cargo demand returned to pre-Covid levels (January 2019) for the first time since the onset of the crisis. January demand also showed strong month-to-month growth over December 2020 levels.

Gustavo Mundel is Perishable Movements Limited air cargo freight manager;

“Demand for air freight is returning to pre-Covid market levels, we are also seeing a spike in  demand for charter, ACMI and BSA programs, which is  the natural response from the air cargo market when facing belly capacity shortage.”

Perishable Movements Limited Air Freight Charter Manager

“We won’t see a shift in balance until there is more clarity in vaccine rollout programmes for those dependent on air freight logistics, coupled with  passenger aircraft flights coming back in higher numbers. We are witnessing the ever-more importance of airfreight in keeping supply chains going with vital and lifesaving goods which are essential for paving the way for a new normality to take place”.

Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), was up 1.1 per cent compared to January 2019 and +3 per cent compared to December 2020. All regions saw month-on-month improvement in air cargo demand, and North America and Africa were the strongest performers.

The recovery in global capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), was reversed owing to new capacity cuts on the passenger side. Capacity shrank 19.5 per cent compared to January 2019 and fell 5 per cent compared to December 2020, the first monthly decline since April 2020.

The operating backdrop remains supportive for air cargo volumes, IATA said. Conditions in the manufacturing sector remain robust despite new Covid-19 outbreaks that dragged down passenger demand. The global manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) was at 53.5 in January. Results above 50 indicate manufacturing growth versus the prior month.

The new export orders component of the manufacturing PMI – a leading indicator of air cargo demand– continued to point to further CTK improvement. However, the performance of the metric was less robust compared with Q42020 as Covid-19 resurgence negatively impacted export business in emerging markets. Should this continue or expand to other markers, it could weigh on future air cargo growth.

The level of inventories remains relatively low compared to sales volumes. Historically, this has meant that businesses had to quickly refill their stocks, for which they also used air cargo services.

“Air cargo traffic is back to pre-crisis levels and that is some much-needed good news for the global economy,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO. 

Source: Fruitnet.com



Open letter to Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Dear Sadiq Khan,


As the Lord Mayor of London and head of the executive of the Greater
London Authority, you’ve taken the decision to extend the Low Emissions
Zone (LEZ) emissions standards from 1st March 2021 to making it tougher
for heavier vehicles to drive within the Greater London area. This includes
Heathrow as per your guidance on www.tfl.govuk: ‘All roads within
Greater London, those at Heathrow and parts of the M1 and M4 are
included.’ The charges are payable 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
The charges range from £100 to £300 per day with penalty charges at
£500 or £250 if paid within 14 days.


As a company which is involved in the transfer of perishable – mainly
essential food – cargo both into and out of the UK this move is crippling
our business. We have daily consignments of food departing from
Heathrow and coming in from Heathrow which we handle on behalf of our
customers to ensure a seamless onward journey. We also receive daily
consignments of European produce to our packhouse, which is then
packed and loaded, ready for distribution to the UK’s major food retailers.
While our own fleet of trucks is Euro VI compliant, many of the European
hauliers that we work with to deliver food are not and are now refusing to
come to Heathrow because of the unacceptably high charges.


During the pandemic, we have worked tirelessly to maintain our
operations despite the challenging conditions, so that the supply chain to
the UK’s supermarkets and key retailers could remain intact. We’ve also
been responsible for the safe transfer of essential PPE. Our employees are
classed as Essential Workers because of the important role they play in
keeping supermarkets stocked with vital food supplies.
Having survived the difficult trading conditions associated with the
pandemic we were then faced with the incredibly stressful fallout of
Britain’s departure from the EU. To say there has been a distinct lack of
clarity from senior decision makers is an understatement. The handling of
Brexit and its impact on our industry has been shambolic. We’ve had to
employ teams of people to try and keep up to speed with the constant
changes, which were still being modified as late as the first week of
January. Despite this, we’ve managed to adapt our operations yet again
and have successfully helped our clients understand the new protocols to
ensure perishable food supplies successfully reach their intended
destination on time.
Two major blows to the industry which could potentially have destroyed
an established British business. But we survived.

A business that employs around 100 members of staff. A business that
has invested heavily in helping the post-Brexit UK transport infrastructure
by creating an approved Border Control Post and ERT (bonded
warehouse) facility away from the ports at Spalding to enable the
continued speedy movement of produce. A business that is expanding and
generating new jobs. A business that supported UK manufacturing to the
tune of £500,000 by investing in a new fleet of state-of-the-art trucks. A
business that is closely aligned with Britain’s plans to ensure Heathrow
can compete with other major European airports.


And how are we repaid?


At a time when you are trying to assert Heathrow as an equal to Paris
CDG and Amsterdam in terms of airfreight the introduction of this tax has
effectively made this mission impossible. And with it you have also made
our plans to extend our operations in Heathrow untenable. This will lead
to people losing their jobs as we will be forced to relocate; the business
will have to spend thousand of pounds in re-training new staff and those
staff that are able to move to a new location will ironically be adding to
the cost of fuel emissions by generating more traffic on the roads as they
are forced to make longer journeys to work.


So much for supporting Britain’s essential workforce.