Onwards and Upwards: Air Cargo Sustains Growth for Q2


According to the IATA, the streak continues—April represents the fifth consecutive month of positive development.

The momentum continues for global air cargo demand—April 2024 data gathered by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) suggests that there has been “strong annual growth” in demand, as the industry continues through Q2.1

Total demand, which is measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), increased by 11.1% compared to April 2023 levels (11.6% for international operations). These numbers represent the fifth straight month of double-digit year-on-year growth. Capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), increased by 7.1% compared to April of last (10.2% for international operations).

If one were to analyze these numbers side-by-side with March’s year-on-year statistics,2 there would show that total demand increased by 10.3% compared to last March’s levels (11.4% for international operations); capacity rose by 7.3% compared over March of last year (10.5% for international operations).

At that particular moment in time, Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general, had predicted that “with global cross-border trade and industrial production continuing to show a moderate upward trend, 2024 is shaping up to be a solid year for air cargo.”

Additional factors that have impacted these numbers include:

  • In April, the purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for global manufacturing output and new export orders shifted positively, to 51.5 and 50.5 respectively. Historically, this represents the first time in a couple of years that the new PMI export orders PMI has been in positions of growth.
  • Inflation for the month across the United States, European Union, and Japan were rather steady, presenting respective rates at 3.4%, 2.6%, and 2.5%. As for China, an 0.2% increase in consumer prices year-on-year.

"Air cargo demand started Q2 with a solid 11.1% increase. While many economic uncertainties remain, it appears that the roots of air cargo’s strong performance are deepening,” added Walsh. “In recent months, air cargo demand grew even when the PMI was indicating the potential for contraction. With the PMI now indicating growth, the prospects for continued strong demand are even more robust.”

Chart Credit: IATA

Chart Credit: IATA

According to the chart above, the 14% year-on-year growth for air cargo by Asia-Pacific airlines is the highest among all regions. Speaking of the Asia market, demand rose by 13.2% compared to last April, while there was 17.7% growth in the Asia-Europe route.

On another note, although it does not necessarily relate to air cargo demand, total passenger demand is also on the rise,3 at 11% compared to April 2023. And while examining further, international and domestic demand increased by 15.8% and 4.0% respectively.

“Passenger demand has been growing for 36 consecutive months. As we enter the peak northern summer travel season, there is every reason to feel optimistic for a strong summer with airlines offering a wide range of travel options. 97% of passengers asked in our recent survey said they were satisfied with their last flight. Every part of the travel value chain needs to be focused on maintaining that,” said Walsh.


1. Air Cargo Demand Continues Strong Growth into Q2. IATA. May 29, 2024. Accessed May 30, 2024. https://www.iata.org/en/pressroom/2024-releases/2024-05-29-01/

2. Saraceno N. Air Freight Continues Its Climb in March. Pharmaceutical Commerce. May 1, 2024. Accessed May 30, 2024. https://www.pharmaceuticalcommerce.com/view/air-freight-demand-continues-its-climb-in-march

3. Passenger Demand Up 11% in April. IATA. May 30, 2024. Accessed May 30, 2024. https://www.iata.org/en/pressroom/2024-releases/2024-05-30-01/

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