News #64 - IATA raises outlook for airline cargo revenues and volumes


IATA has raised its outlook for airlines’ cargo revenues and volumes for 2024 after demand and rates have performed better than expected.

The airline association said it now expected cargo revenues for the year to be $120bn compared with its previous December forecast of $111bn.

Cargo volumes in cargo tonne km terms are now expected to grow by 5% compared with its previous forecast of 4.5%.

The improved outlook comes as volumes have been growing faster than expected; year-to-date figures to the end of April show an actual increase in CTKs of 12.7%.

Meanwhile, rates have also been performing better than expected; in December IATA predicted cargo yields for the year would fall 20.9% year on year but this has now been adjusted to a 17.5% drop.

Airfreight rates on key trades out of Asia have this year been boosted by strong e-commerce demand while the Red Sea crisis has resulted in some modal shift from sea to sea-air to push prices out of the Middle East.

While the association has raised its outlook, it also pointed out that performance would still be down on 2023 levels as the market continues to normalise following the Covid pandemic years.

“Cargo revenues are expected to fall to $120bn in 2024 (from $138bn in 2023). Both are down sharply from the extraordinary peak of $210bn in 2021, but it is above 2019 revenues, which were $101bn,” IATA said.

“Despite the strength of demand, cargo yields are expected to fall 17.5% in 2024 while remaining slightly above 2019 levels. This is a normalisation after extraordinary pandemic highs.

“A key factor in this is the significant belly capacity that entered the market in 2023 in tandem with the recovery of passenger travel.

“In general, air cargo is in a period of correction following an exceptional year in 2021. Yields, capacity growth, the belly-dedicated freighter split, and other key metrics are moving from the extraordinary mid-pandemic situation towards a continuation of pre-pandemic trends and levels.”

IATA also boosted its outlook for the airline industry overall. The association is now forecasting that the global airline industry will this year exceed the profitability it achieved in 2023, although it notes that margins remain thin.

Global airlines are expected to record a combined net profit of $30.5bn this year, versus the $27.4bn they are estimated to have recorded in 2023, IATA said at its AGM in Dubai on June 3.

That revised projection represents an improvement from the $25.7bn that the industry association forecasted for 2024 in December 2023.


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