Air Cargo on the Rise in November

According to data released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for November 2023, air freight numbers point to the strongest year-on-year growth in about two years. This is not only attributed to weakness in November 2022, but also a fourth straight month of rising air cargo demand.

Global demand for air cargo, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), increased by 8.3% compared to November 2022. For international operations, demand growth increased by 8.1%.

Capacity, which is measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), was up 13.7% compared to November 2022 (+11.6% for international operations). Most of the capacity growth continues to be attributable to the increase in belly capacity as international passenger markets continue their post-COVID recovery. Taking a look at pre-COVID-19 numbers (November 2019), demand is down 2.5% while capacity is up 4.1%.

Other noteworthy influences included:

  • The manufacturing output and new export order purchasing managers indexes (PMIs) remained right below the 50-mark in November; small positive movements could signify a deceleration of the economic slowdown.
  • As measured by the corresponding consumer price index (CPI), inflation in major advanced economies continued to soften in November, positioning itself around 3% year-on-year for the United States, Japan, as well as the EU, in November. China showed negative annual growth in its CPI for the second time in a row.
  • Air cargo yields (including surcharges) continued their significant upward trend (+8.9% since October).

“November air cargo demand was up 8.3% on 2022—the strongest year-on-year growth in almost two years. That is a doubling of October’s 3.8% increase and a fourth month of positive market development,” notes Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general. “It is shaping up to be an encouraging year-end for air cargo despite the significant economic concerns that were present throughout 2023 and continue on the horizon,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general.

According to the chart above, Asia-Pacific airlines saw a 13.8% increase in air cargo volumes for November 2023 compared to the same month in 2022, an improvement over the previous month’s growth of 7.6%. Available capacity for the region’s airlines increased by 29.6% compared to November 2022, as more belly capacity came online with the removal of COVID-19 restrictions. Also, North American carriers were illustrated as presenting weakest demand growth in November with a 1.8% increase (YoY) in cargo volumes.


Air Cargo Demand Up 8.3% in November. IATA. January 9, 2024. Accessed January 15, 2024.

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