IATA unveils 2020 air freight data

February 6, 2021

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.