The global air cargo market has continued to see strengthening demand during July 2023, according to data released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

After a disappointing start to the year, IATA has found that air cargo demand has almost reached 2022 levels, sitting just 0.8% behind the level of demand in July 2022.

Director General Willie Walsh said that compared to the data for June, which showed demand was 3.4% below 2022 levels, the latest findings were a “significant improvement” and continued the strengthening trend that began in February.

However, he also added that the industry would need to watch carefully to see how the trend could evolve over the rest of the year: “Many fundamental drivers of air cargo demand, such as trade volumes and export orders, remain weak or are deteriorating. And there are growing concerns over how China’s economy is developing.

“At the same time, we are seeing shorter delivery times, which is normally a sign of increasing economic activity. Amid these mixed signals, strengthening demand gives us good reason to be cautiously optimistic.”

While the overall levels held at just below 2022 levels, this was largely driven by the North American and European carriers, which saw the weakest performances with a 5.2% and 1.5% year-on-year decrease, respectively, continuing a trend seen in the first half of the year.

Meanwhile, all other markets saw an increase in air cargo volumes, with African airlines marking the best performance thanks to a 2.9% increase compared to July 2022.

Asia-Pacific carriers also saw a stronger month with a 2.7% increase thanks to growth in three trade lanes between Europe and Asia, the Middle East and Asia and Africa and Asia. 

Despite disappointing trends in the North American cargo market, one of the continent’s busiest airports, Los Angeles International, recently selected the development teams for its cargo modernisation project, looking to update its cargo operation facilities.