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Air cargo demand up on supply chain disruptions and delays

By Moses Omusolo | December 4th 2021
By Moses Omusolo | December 4th 2021

KLM Cargo plane at JKIA, Nairobi. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

African airlines saw international cargo volumes increase by 26.7 per cent in October compared to the same period last year.

International Air Transport Association (IATA) latest data for global air cargo markets shows that though African carriers saw international cargo volumes rise in October, there was a noticeable deterioration from the previous month's 35 per cent.

Globally, cargo demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometres (CTKs) was also up 9.4 per cent compared to October 2019 (10.4 per cent) for international operations. "International capacity was 9.4 per cent higher than pre-crisis levels, the only region in positive territory, albeit on small volumes," said IATA.

This is attributed to robust economic conditions that continue to support air cargo. Supply chain disruptions and the resulting delivery delays have also led to long supplier delivery times resulting in manufacturers using air transport, which is quicker, to recover time lost during the production process.

"The global supplier delivery time Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) reached an all-time low of 34.8 in October; values below 50 are favourable for air cargo," added IATA.

IATA Director General Willie Walsh said though the October data reflected an overall positive outlook for air cargo, the impact of State reactions to the Omicron Covid-19 variant is a concern, adding that if it dampens travel demand, capacity issues will become more acute.

"After almost two years of Covid-19, governments have the experience and tools to make better data-driven decisions than the mostly knee-jerk reactions to restrict travel that we have seen to date," he said.

He said restrictions will not stop the spread of Omicron. "The focus of governments should be squarely on ensuring the integrity of supply chains and increasing the distribution of vaccines," he said.

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