Air Cargo on the Rise in November


IATA’s latest numbers suggest the strongest year-on-year growth in almost two years.

According to data released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for November 2023, air freight numbers point to the strongest year-on-year growth in about two years. This is not only attributed to weakness in November 2022, but also a fourth straight month of rising air cargo demand.

Global demand for air cargo, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), increased by 8.3% compared to November 2022. For international operations, demand growth increased by 8.1%.

Capacity, which is measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), was up 13.7% compared to November 2022 (+11.6% for international operations). Most of the capacity growth continues to be attributable to the increase in belly capacity as international passenger markets continue their post-COVID recovery. Taking a look at pre-COVID-19 numbers (November 2019), demand is down 2.5% while capacity is up 4.1%.

Other noteworthy influences included:

  • The manufacturing output and new export order purchasing managers indexes (PMIs) remained right below the 50-mark in November; small positive movements could signify a deceleration of the economic slowdown.
  • As measured by the corresponding consumer price index (CPI), inflation in major advanced economies continued to soften in November, positioning itself around 3% year-on-year for the United States, Japan, as well as the EU, in November. China showed negative annual growth in its CPI for the second time in a row.
  • Air cargo yields (including surcharges) continued their significant upward trend (+8.9% since October).

“November air cargo demand was up 8.3% on 2022—the strongest year-on-year growth in almost two years. That is a doubling of October’s 3.8% increase and a fourth month of positive market development,” notes Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general. “It is shaping up to be an encouraging year-end for air cargo despite the significant economic concerns that were present throughout 2023 and continue on the horizon,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general.

Chart Credit: IATA

Chart Credit: IATA

According to the chart above, Asia-Pacific airlines saw a 13.8% increase in air cargo volumes for November 2023 compared to the same month in 2022, an improvement over the previous month’s growth of 7.6%. Available capacity for the region’s airlines increased by 29.6% compared to November 2022, as more belly capacity came online with the removal of COVID-19 restrictions. Also, North American carriers were illustrated as presenting weakest demand growth in November with a 1.8% increase (YoY) in cargo volumes.


Air Cargo Demand Up 8.3% in November. IATA. January 9, 2024. Accessed January 15, 2024.

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