Air cargo demand slumped in January for the 10th consecutive month, pouring cold water over a brief flash of optimism triggered by the latest ceasefire in the Trump Administration’s trade war with China, according to a report today from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Although businesses throughout the sector are bracing for the impact of a business slowdown caused by the global coronavirus outbreak, the latest decline was actually caused by the timing of the Lunar New Year, IATA said.
Because that event fell earlier in 2020 than 2019, it closed factories and slowed the pace of business throughout Asia primarily in January. Businesses will have to wait for the February statistics to come in before they can get a clear picture of how Covid-19 is impacting global air cargo, IATA said.
Air cargo demand decreased by 3.3% in January 2020, compared to the same period in 2019, as measured in cargo tonne kilometers (CTKs), IATA said in its monthly “Air Cargo Market Analysis.” Although demand continued to be soft, cargo capacity rose by 0.9% year-on-year in January 2020, as measured in available cargo tonne kilometers (ACTKs), marking the 21st consecutive month that capacity growth has outstripped demand growth.
Despite the timing of the report, it is unlikely that the Covid-19 outbreak had very much to do with January’s weak performance, IATA said. “January marked the tenth consecutive month of year-on-year declines in cargo volumes. The air cargo industry started the year on a weak footing,” Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO, said in a release.
“There was optimism that an easing of U.S.-China trade tensions would give the sector a boost in 2020. But that has been overtaken by the Covid-19 outbreak, which has severely disrupted global supply chains, although it did not have a major impact on January’s cargo performance,” de Juniac said. “Tough times are ahead. The course of future events is unclear, but this is a sector that has proven its resilience time and again.”
#Aircargo demand down 3.3% in Jan 2020 - 10th consecutive month of year-on-year declines.— IATA (@IATA) March 4, 2020
Easing of ???? ???? trade tensions expected to give air cargo a boost in 2020 likely to be wiped out by #COVID19. Tough times ahead! #aviation https://t.co/V4Yi4KXurC pic.twitter.com/IXvZ9Azv8M