Data released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has shown a continued decline in demand for the global air cargo market during May 2023. 

The data collected by IATA as part of its monthly statistics show a 5.2% drop in cargo tonne-kilometres (CTKs) for the global market in May when compared to the same period in 2022. 

However, director general Willie Walsh said the second half of 2023 should bring improvements: “As inflation moderates in many markets, it is widely expected that central bank rate hikes will taper. This should help stimulate economic activity with a positive impact on demand for air cargo.” 

Additionally, despite the continued downward trend when comparing global demand to 2022 levels, the rate of decrease has slowed since January with the % decrease in May only 35% of the January data. 

IATA highlighted North American carriers as having the weakest performance during May, continuing a trend that began in March though the decrease in 2022 levels (8.1% for May) was not as bad as in April (12.4%). 

In contrast, Latin America had the strongest performance of all regions with the only increase in cargo volume in 2022 thanks to a 3.6% rise, improving on its April performance when carriers in the region saw a 1.6% drop. 

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However, despite the overall decline in air cargo demand, the industry capacity continues to rise with 14.5% more available CTKs year on year for May 2023, largely due to increased belly capacity connected to recovery in commercial passenger demand according to IATA. 

Though the future of the air cargo market is uncertain, the recent Commercial Market Outlook from Boeing forecasts that air cargo traffic would continue to outpace global trade growth thanks to factors such as e-commerce growth and evolving supply chains.