IATA’s latest cargo figures indicate a capacity crunch in the sector. Even though global demand fell 27.7% due to the COVID-19 outbreak, overall capacity fell 42%.

In fact, belly capacity for international air cargo shrank 75% in April compared with the previous year though this was partially offset by a 15% increase in capacity through expanded use of freighter aircraft.

The outcome was an 11.5 percentage point increase in the cargo load factor (CLF), a significant rise that suggests that there is demand for air cargo which cannot be met.

“There is a severe capacity crunch in air cargo,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO. “The result is damaging global supply chains with longer shipping times and higher costs. Airlines are deploying as much capacity as possible, including special charter operations and the temporary use of passenger cabins for cargo. Governments need to continue to ensure that vital supply lines remain open and efficient. While many have responded with speed and clarity to facilitate the movement of cargo, government red-tape—particularly in Africa and Latin America—is preventing the industry from flexibly deploying aircraft to meet the demands of the pandemic and the global economy.”

Delays in getting operational permits issued, blockages at the border and inadequate ground infrastructure to/from and within airport environments continue to hamper air cargo in countries in Africa and Latin America. Air cargo needs to move efficiently throughout the entire supply chain to be effective. IATA urges governments to:

  • Accelerate approvals for cargo operations 
  • Expedite customs clearance for urgently needed medical supplies 
  • Ensure there is adequate staff on the ground and land-based infrastructure to move cargo efficiently


Picture Credit | iStock