Air freight demand continued its recovery in October, IATA figures show, as global cargo tonne-kilometres expanded 4.1% month on month.

As a result, global demand as measured by CTKs was just 6.2% below the same month last year, after a 7.8% drop in September.

KLM cargo loading April 2020

Source: KLM

Capacity, as measured by available cargo tonne-kilometres, was down 23% year on year in October. International capacity was down 25%.

“Demand for air cargo is coming back – a trend we see continuing into the fourth quarter,” states IATA chief executive Alexandre de Juniac. “The biggest problem for air cargo is the lack of capacity as much of the passenger fleet remains grounded.”

He adds: “The end of the year is always peak season for air cargo. That will likely be exaggerated with shoppers relying on e-commerce – 80% of which is delivered by air. So the capacity crunch from the grounded aircraft will hit particularly hard in the closing months of 2020. And the situation will become even more critical as we search for capacity for the impending vaccine deliveries.”

IATA’s data also shows strong regional variations in demand. For North American and African carriers, demand rose 6.2% and 2.2% year on year, respectively, while Latin America, Asia-Pacific and Europe all had falls of over 10%. Even in these markets, however, demand was significantly greater in October than in September.

The improving demand situation tallies with economic data showing a strong global rebound in growth and trade, IATA notes.