Region's airlines have aggressively added capacity in the last few months
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for air freight markets in August showing that Middle East carriers reported a decline of 6.8% in year-on-year international cargo volumes in August, a significant improvement from the 15.1% fall in July.
The region's airlines have aggressively added capacity in the last few months with international capacity improving from a 42% fall at the trough in April, to a decline of 24.2% in August, the most resilient of all regions.
Demand on trade routes to and from Asia and North America remained strong with demand down 3.3% and up 2.3% respectively year-on-year.
Across the globe improvement remains slow amid insufficient capacity. Demand moved slightly in a positive direction month-on-month; however, levels remain depressed compared to 2019.
Improvement continues at a slower pace than some of the traditional leading indicators would suggest. This is due to the capacity constraint from the loss of available belly cargo space as passenger aircraft remain parked.
Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), was 12.6% below previous-year levels in August (-14% for international operations). That is a modest improvement from the 14.4% year-on-year drop recorded in July. Seasonally-adjusted demand grew by 1.1% month-on-month in August.
Global capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), shrank by 29.4% in August (‑31.6% for international operations) compared to the previous year. This is basically unchanged from the 31.8% year-on-year drop in July.
Belly capacity for international air cargo was 67% below the levels of August 2019 owing to the withdrawal of passenger services amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was partially offset by a 28.1% increase in dedicated freighter capacity. Daily widebody freighter utilization is close to 11 hours per day, the highest levels since these figures have been tracked in 2012.
Economic activity continued to recover in August reflected, among other things, in the performance of the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) indicator of economic health in the manufacturing sector.