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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.

How is the largest cargo aircraft in the world used?

Imagining the largest cargo aircraft in the world almost seems impossible. Even the regular iterations of these planes seem unimaginably huge, but it’s the Antonov An-225 that truly shatters expectations beyond comprehension. There’s only one that’s fully operational in the world, which should show how special it really is!

Moreover, it’s not only the worlds largest cargo aircraft, but it’s also the world’s largest aeroplane; full stop! With importance and capabilities as great as these, it must be used for some highly extraordinary tasks. But how is it used?

Well, let’s explore this line of enquiry further below.

Cargo transportation

As previously mentioned, the Antonov AN-225 is principally a cargo plane. This means it transports goods from point A to point B. However, because of its size and scale, the An-225 carries loads that other aeroplanes simply aren’t built to carry. After all, air travel is extremely sensitive to things like weight – but the AN-225 can carry an impressive 250 tons worth of weight.

Interestingly, charter company Chapman Freeborn recorded and coordinated the first ever use of the AN-225; a cargo transportation from Switzerland to Bahrain. Obviously, because of the special nature of this cargo plane, it does not enjoy as much varied or common usage as it’s perhaps more regular counterparts, who’re experiencing a greater boom in activity in recent years. It’s typically only brought out under special circumstances; i.e. a huge cargo to be transported! 

What cargo?

Of course, the plane doesn’t just ferry around any mundane and generic cargo that most planes do! No, initially, the AN-225 was built for a very specific and exciting purpose; to transport parts and components of the Buran space shuttle for the Soviet Union! Yes, it was built to facilitate the space race at a faster rate with its six powerful turbofan engines and 32 wheels to evenly distribute its weight.

Obviously, this level of use makes the plane not only important in usage, but historically significant too. People are endlessly researching its capabilities, and wondering about the possibilities of a second plane, which ultimately never finished its development. Consequently, the An-225 is certainly one of a kind – at least for now!

A tourist attraction

It’s far from being as cheap and tacky as it sounds, but because of the exceptional make and performance of the plane, something that’s been as magnificently crafted as the AN-225 is going to draw a few keen eyes. Visitors have traveled far and wide to catch a glimpse of the cargo plane in action, and most efforts end without a sighting due to the AN-225’s more exclusive nature in its usage.

Still, people do endeavor to witness the planes majesty for themselves and has historically been revered from when it was on display at the Paris Air Show in 1989, just a year from its first flight the year prior. There’s not quite a fledging industry built around it today due to its rare usage, but nevertheless, it is used as a tourist attraction in select periods of inactivity or pre-flight preparations. All it takes is one video to circulate the internet, and media buzz follows up soon after! Few planes (except for perhaps something like Air Force One) can influence that level of reaction, so doing so is undoubtedly an impressive feat!

Ultimately, the AN-225 has enjoyed a wide variety of media coverage and cargo transportation usage. It’s a cargo plane unlike any other and unrivalled in its capabilities, meaning it will stand the test of time for decades to come.

Jettainer ECS

Descartes Announces Acquisition of CORE Transport Technologies for Air Cargo Support

Descartes Systems Group announced this week its acquisition of New-Zealand headquartered company CORE Transport Technologies for an up-front consideration of $21 million in addition to potential performance-based consideration. CORE’s customers – which include commercial airlines and ground handlers, utilize the company’s network to successfully track international mail, parcel and cargo shipments as well as US domestic mail and parcel shipments.

“As US domestic and international ecommerce continues to grow, more demands are being placed on carriers and their partners to deliver efficiently and report events in real-time,” said Ken Wood, EVP of Product Management at Descartes. “The CORE acquisition complements our recent investment in Velocity Mail, helping us to better serve the logistics service provider community working with postal authorities around the world. CORE’s solutions also extend beyond mail and parcel shipment tracking, with air cargo tracking solutions that we can add to our Global Logistics Network.”

CORE boasts ten years of providing global connections with trading partners and government postal authorities for its customers. By integrating automation and utilizing data analytics, CORE supports operational efficiencies and streamlined operations to support customers.

“We continue to look for opportunities to add customers, solutions and content to our Global Logistics Network to help our customers manage the lifecycle of shipments,” said Edward J. Ryan, Descartes’ CEO. “By combining with CORE, we’re strengthening our position in the growing domestic and global ecommerce market. We’re also adding new solutions to our Descartes Global Air Messaging Gateway that we believe will present a compelling opportunity for our global air cargo community to enhance real-time tracking and visibility of air shipments.”

Source: Descartes