NEW monthly data from the International Air Transport Association suggests global air cargo demand is getting stronger.

In February 2024, total demand (measured in cargo tonne-kilometres) rose by 11.9% compared with February 2023 levels.

This marked the third consecutive month of double-digit year-on-year demand growth.

Capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometres, increased by 13.4% compared with February 2023.

IATA attributed this largely to the increase in international belly capacity accompanying growth in passenger markets (29.5% year-on-year increase), which far exceeded international capacity on freighters (3.2% year-on-year increase).

“February’s demand growth of 11.9% far outpaced the 0.9% expansion in cross-border trade,” IATA director general Willie Walsh said.

“This strong start for 2024 could see demand surpass the exceptionally high levels of early 2022.

“It also shows air cargo’s strong resilience in the face of continuing political and economic uncertainties.”

Asia-Pacific airlines saw 11.9% year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in February.

IATA noted this was a significant decrease compared with January’s 24.3% year-on-year growth, likely related to slowing activity after the Lunar New Year celebrations.

Capacity in the region increased by 23.1% year-on-year as belly capacity came online with recovery in the passenger business.

North American carriers saw 4.2% year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in February, which was the weakest among all regions.

Demand on the North America to Europe trade lane grew by 5.2% year-on-year while Asia to North America grew by 3.9% year-on-year. February capacity increased by 1.9% year-on-year.

European carriers saw 14.6% year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in February. Intra-European air cargo rose by 24.5% year-on-year – the strongest performance in almost three years.

Europe to Middle East routes saw demand grow by 39.3% year-on-year, while Europe to North America expanded by 5.2% year-on-year. February capacity increased 13.2% year-on-year.

Middle Eastern carriers saw 20.9% year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in February.

The Middle East–Europe market was the strongest performing with a 39.3% increase, far ahead of Middle East-Asia which grew by 21.9% year-on-year. February capacity increased 16.2% year-on-year.

Latin American carriers saw 13.7% year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in February. Capacity increased 8.9% year-on-year.

And African airlines saw 22% year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in February – the strongest among all regions. The intra-Africa trade lane showed 42.3% year-on-year growth. February capacity increased by 28.2% year-on-year.