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Africa Leads Global Air Cargo Demand Surge In May 2024

IN May, global air cargo demand experienced a significant surge, with Africa leading the growth, driven by trade expansion and booming e-commerce. This development highlights the region’s increasing role in international trade and economic activities.

Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general, noted the overall positive outlook for the air cargo sector, citing increased demand across all regions. However, he cautioned that stricter US conditions on e-commerce deliveries from China could pose challenges, particularly affecting the Asia-North America trade lane.


Africa’s remarkable performance

African airlines recorded an impressive 18.4 percent year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in May, the highest among all regions. The Africa-Asia trade lane stood out with a remarkable 40.6 percent increase compared to May 2023, the strongest performance among all trade routes. Capacity in Africa increased by 21.4 percent year-on-year, reflecting the region’s robust response to growing trade demands.

Global context

In May, the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for global manufacturing output and new export orders indicated expansion, with values of 52.6 and 50.4 respectively. Additionally, industrial production and global cross-border trade saw month-on-month increases in April, with 0.5 percent and 1.5 percent growth respectively.

Inflation presented a mixed picture in May. The EU and Japan saw inflation rates fall to 2.7 percent and 2.8 percent respectively, while the US experienced a rise to 3.3 percent. China’s inflation rate remained near zero (0.3 percent), reflecting weak domestic demand due to high unemployment, slow income growth, and a real estate sector crisis, a trend ongoing since 2023.

Regional performance highlights

  • Asia-Pacific: Airlines experienced a 17.8 percent year-on-year demand growth for air cargo. Capacity increased by 8.4 percent year-on-year, with significant growth in trade lanes connecting Africa and Asia.
  • North America: Carriers saw an 8.7 percent year-on-year demand growth for air cargo. The Asia-North America trade lane grew by 12.0 percent, while the North America-Europe route saw an 8.9 percent increase, marking the largest demand growth for this route since mid-2022. Capacity increased by 2.5 percent year-on-year.
  • Europe: Carriers experienced a 17.2 percent year-on-year demand growth. Intra-European air cargo rose by 25.6 percent, marking the fifth consecutive month of double-digit annual growth. Europe-Middle East routes saw a 33.8 percent demand increase. Capacity increased by 11.9 percent year-on-year.
  • Middle East: Carriers saw a 15.3 percent year-on-year demand growth. The Middle East-Europe market performed exceptionally well with a 33.8 percent annual growth, ahead of Middle East-Asia which grew by 18.6 percent. Capacity increased by 2.7 percent year-on-year.
  • Latin America: Carriers experienced a 12.7 percent year-on-year demand growth. Capacity increased by 8.0 percent year-on-year.

The surge in air cargo demand, particularly in Africa, underscores the continent’s growing influence in global trade. With continued investment in infrastructure and technology, Africa is well-positioned to maintain its upward trajectory and play a pivotal role in the global economy.


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