The international air cargo market has been on fire since last summer and the blaze is getting bigger, new figures show. The only thing dampening growth is a lack of capacity related to the severe pullback in international passenger flights.
February air shipment volumes increased 9% compared to the same month in 2019, according to data released Wednesday by the International Air Transport Association. Demand for air transport is so strong that it has returned to elevated levels last seen before the U.S.-China trade war broke out in 2018. The results were also 1.5% higher than in January, when air cargo traffic returned to positive territory, plus 1.1% over 2019, from the depths of last spring’s pandemic trough.
Cargo demand is being pulled up by the V-shaped recovery of the global economy and industrial production, roaring e-commerce sales as people spend on goods rather than services, conversion from ocean shipping where transport delays of several weeks are common, and low inventory-to-sales ratios that can mean stockouts if companies don’t use air for replenishment.