IATA unveils 2020 air freight data

Last year’s numbers indicate historic lows

Newly released 2020 numbers for global air freight markets showed that demand for air cargo decreased by 10.6% in 2020, compared to 2019 levels, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). This was the largest drop in year-on-year demand since IATA started to monitor cargo performance in 1990, outpacing the 6% fall in global trade in goods.

Global demand is measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs).

Global capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), shrank by 23.3% in 2020 (‑24.1% for international operations) compared to 2019. This was more than double the contraction in demand.

Because of the lack of available capacity, cargo load factors rose 7.7% in 2020. Perhaps a “bright spot,” some may argue, is that this contributed to increased yields and revenues, providing support to airlines and some long-haul passenger services in the face of collapsed passenger revenues.