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Why is Global Air Cargo Demand on the Rise?

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Why is Global Air Cargo Demand on the Rise?

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the official global body of the airline industry, the demand for global air cargo reached its highest level since IATA began collecting the data in 1990. In March 2020, the demand was 4.4 percent higher than in March 2019. This was the month before the Covid-19 outbreak. However, the statistics don’t necessarily explain why global air cargo demand is at such an all-time high. Let’s try to break down some events that have led to the current state.

The upside of the pandemic

The pandemic has taken many lives and caused numerous problems for nearly every nook and cranny of the financial world. However, this doesn’t mean that there’s no silver lining to be found. The demand for global air cargo has benefited from the consequences of the pandemic in volumes no one could’ve predicted. Following the COVID-19 epidemic, air cargo demand has been steadily increasing.

However, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies in this industry. It seems that the demand growth slowed down a bit in March. In March 2021, air cargo demand was only 0.4 percent greater than it was in February 2021. Furthermore, in February 2021, it was 9.2 percent greater than in February 2019. The lower performance of Asian-Pacific and Latin American operators could be to blame for the slowdown. This, of course, doesn’t mean that the rising chain has been broken. It’s merely settled on a slower pace. The fact that demand in March 2021 was at its highest point since 1990 supports this point.

The everlasting will to evolve

Of course, we cannot contribute the rise of global air cargo demand solely to the pandemic. People need to be willing to make lemonade out of lemons; the lemons alone aren’t enough. The cheesy metaphor aside, all it means is that airlines are taking all the necessary measures to find the needed capacity to continue working and evolve beyond their previous achievements. They are using the recent boost to improve upon significant issues such as the frequency of delayed or damaged goods.

This crisis has proven that air freight can overcome fundamental problems by quickly embracing innovations. This is how it has continually remained the most effective way of shipping. Even though a part of the passenger fleet remains grounded, it continues to meet the growing demand. By digitalizing and being open to new ways of doing business, global air cargo is a bright light in the aviation industry.

Underlying economic conditions are beneficial to global air cargo demand

The underlying economic climate remains favorable for air cargo. The manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) component of new export orders, which stood at 53.4 in March, reflects this. Manufacturing growth during the previous month is demonstrated by a score of above 50. During January and February 2021, this was centered in developed countries. Deliveries for manufactured goods are also increasing dramatically, which usually means more demand for air freight in an effort to cut down on shipping time.

Global air cargo is convenient

Seeing how this way of transporting items is the fastest, there are many benefits to it. This naturally makes it far more convenient and is why people turn to global air cargo regularly. Aside from the fact that this transportation alternative is fast, it’s also very reliable. Another great pro that explains the rise of global air cargo demand is that there are no conditions location-wise. Wherever you live, delivering your goods won’t be an issue. This means that you’ll be able to cut down on additional costs such as renting storage, packaging, and insurance, especially if you’re relocating. Global air cargo allows you to plan your shipments to a tee.

Air cargo is setting new sustainability goals

One of the worst downsides of global air cargo is its environmental impact. However, the industry has been working on reducing its carbon footprint by digitalizing operations wherever possible. The fact that air cargo is trying to be sustainable is excellent news! These activities are critical for long-term success. By removing unnecessary steps and reducing the amount of time, effort, and resources needed, digitization will help advance sustainability. They’ll save paper by using e-air waybills, for example. The use of artificial intelligence will result in more efficient planning and lower fuel use. Apart from the ideas that have already been set in motion, the demand for global air cargo also motivates industry workers to keep trying to develop new ways of making air freight sustainable.

Not everything is black and white

Although we can safely speak of the rise of global air cargo demand, staying objective is imperative. It’s essential to be aware of the reality surrounding this matter. All this means is that you should by no means imagine a straight rising line of improvement. Even though the demand for global air cargo is growing, we cannot neglect the rollercoaster nature of it all.

Many factors affect global air cargo demand. For example, it varies significantly across the IATA’s regions. Africa has had the best results, while Latin America had the lowest. Strong Asia-Africa trade flows dramatically enhanced African air cargo demand by 24.6 percent in March this year compared to March 2019. Over the same period, Latin American demand on international routes decreased by 23.6 percent.


Thomas Hendricks has been working as a consultant at with an ambition to help people get the most out of their moving experiences. When he is not working, you can find him reading about the innovations in the industry or polishing up his cooking skills.