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18% increase in air cargo demand in January, says IATA

The U-Freight Group, which has a strong presence in the expedited international airfreight business, notes that the latest figures released by IATA show that air cargo demand increased by a “remarkable” 18.4% year on year in January – the second month in a row of double-digit percentage increases.

IATA data shows that as well as cargo tonne kms (CTK) increasing in January, available capacity was up 14.6% year on year as belly space continued to be added to the market and the cargo load factor improved by 1.4 percentage points to 45.7%.

CTKs for the month were also 2.8% up on pre-Covid 2019 levels.

The airline association said the increase in demand was the highest registered since summer 2021 when the world was in recovery mode following the Covid pandemic.

The increase was attributed to rising e-commerce demand, although last year the Lunar New Year holiday took place in mid-January meaning factories were closed in the second half of the month. There were also reports of some modal shift as a result of the Red Sea shipping crisis.

IATA director general Willie Walsh said: “This is a strong start to the year. In particular, the booming e-commerce sector is continuing to help air cargo demand to trend above growth in both trade and production since the last quarter of 2023. “The counterweight to this good news is uncertainty over how China’s economic slowdown will unfold.”

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