The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released data for September 2023, revealing a continued recovery in global air cargo markets.
- Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), saw a 1.9% increase compared to September 2022 levels, with international operations experiencing a 1.6% growth.
- Capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), rose by 12.1% in comparison to September 2022, with international operations showing an 11.0% increase. This growth was primarily attributed to the expansion of international belly capacity, which surged by 31.5% year-on-year. Airlines ramped up their operations to meet the heightened demand during the peak northern summer travel season.
Despite these positive trends, several factors in the operating environment deserve attention:
- In September, the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for manufacturing output reached 49.7, indicating a slight improvement over the previous month. Similarly, the new export orders PMI rose to 47.7. While these improvements are promising, they remained below the critical 50-point threshold, signaling a continued but slightly slower annual decline in global manufacturing production and exports.
- Global cross-border trade contracted for the fifth consecutive month in August, with a 3.8% year-over-year decrease. This decline reflects the cooling global macroeconomic environment.
- In the United States, annual growth in consumer prices stabilized at 3.7% in September, matching the rate seen in August. In Europe and Japan, consumer price inflation slowed by 1.0 and 0.2 percentage points, respectively, to 4.9% and 3.0%. In China, policies aimed at combating deflation resulted in an annual rise in consumer prices of 0.1%.
- The average price of jet fuel in September was $131.0 per barrel, marking a significant 43.1% increase from the May 2023 price. The recovery of some of these added costs through surcharges in September contributed to the first increase in air cargo yields since November 2022.
Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General, commented on the findings, saying, “Air cargo eked out modest growth (1.9%) in September despite falling trade volumes and high jet fuel prices. That clearly shows the strength of air cargo’s value proposition. With the key export order and manufacturing PMIs hovering near positive territory, we can be cautiously optimistic for a strong year-end peak season.”