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Air Cargo Increases For 3rd Consecutive Month, IATA Stats to Know

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has recently released data for October 2023 global air cargo markets, showing a consistent increase in year-on-year demand for the third consecutive month.

In October 2023, global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), grew by 3.8% compared to the same period in 2022. The demand for international operations slightly lagged at 3.5%.

Furthermore, the capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), saw a notable increase of 13.1% compared to October 2022. For international operations, the capacity growth was at 11.1%. This expansion can largely be attributed to the rise in belly capacity, with international belly capacity experiencing a significant 30.5% year-on-year growth driven by the strength of passenger markets.

Economic Factors Driving Air Cargo Demand

It’s important to consider several factors in the current operating environment. Economic activities slowed in October, as indicated by the Purchasing Managers’ Index for manufacturing output and export orders for major economies (excluding the US), which remained below the critical 50 mark. This serves as a clear marker for potential economic challenges ahead.

Inflation in major advanced economies showed signs of easing, with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the US and the EU reaching between 3% and 4% in October. However, China experienced deflation for the second time this year, raising concerns about a possible economic slowdown.

On a positive note, global trade reversed its downward trend and stabilized in September. While it remains below its peak in 2022, global cross-border trade has exceeded pre-pandemic levels by more than 5%.

After a continuous decline over 17 months, cargo yields showed improvement in September, recording a month-on-month gain of 2.6%. This positive trend continued into October, with cargo yields exceeding pre-pandemic levels.

Resilience and Recovery of the Air Cargo Market

Overall, these findings highlight the resilience and recovery of the global air cargo market despite ongoing challenges in the economic landscape and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Demand for air cargo was up 3.8% in October. That marks three consecutive months of year-on-year growth, placing air cargo on course to end 2023 on a much stronger footing than it began the year. Recovering demand, slightly stronger yields, and the uptick in trade are all good news. But with demand still 2.4% below pre-pandemic levels and much uncertainty remaining over the trajectory of the global economy, optimism must be balanced with caution. Nonetheless, a continued strong peak year-end season will certainly help the sector to manage through whatever turns the global economy might take in 2024,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

IATA October Air Cargo Market 2023 Perfomance

(% reflects year-on-year change)

Total Market: 100.0%

  • CTK: 3.8%
  • ACT: 13.1%
  • KCLF (%-pt)2: 45.2%,
  • CLF (level)3: -4.0%


  • World share1: 2.0%
  • CTK: 2.9%
  • ACT: 9.8%
  • KCLF (%-pt)2: 41.6%
  • CLF (level)3: -2.8%

Asia Pacific

  • World share1: 32.4%
  • CTK: 7.6%
  • ACT: 30.0%
  • KCLF (%-pt)2: 47.2%
  • CLF (level)3: -9.8%


  • World share1: 21.8%
  • CTK: 1.0%
  • ACT: 7.0%
  • KCLF (%-pt)2: 53.0%
  • CLF (level)3: -3.2%

Latin America

  • World share1: 2.7%
  • CTK: 4.0%
  • ACT: 8.3%
  • KCLF (%-pt)2: 35.4%
  • CLF (level)3: -1.5%

Middle East

  • World share1: 13.0%
  • CTK: 10.9%
  • ACT: 15.0%
  • KCLF (%-pt)2: 46.0%
  • CLF (level)3: -1.7%

North America

  • World share1: 28.1%
  • CTK: -1.8%
  • ACT: 2.4%
  • KCLF (%-pt)2: 39.2%
  • CLF (level)3: -1.7%

1% of industry CTKs in 2022   2year-on-year change in load factor   3Load Factor Level

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