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Geneva - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for October 2023 global air cargo markets indicating the third consecutive month of stronger year-on-year demand.

Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometres (CTKs*), increased by 3.8% compared to October 2022. For international operations, the demand lagged slightly at 3.5%.

Capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometres (ACTKs), was up 13.1% compared to October 2022 (11.1% for international operations). This was largely related to the growth in belly capacity. International belly capacity, for example, rose 30.5% year-on-year on the strength of passenger markets.

Several factors in the operating environment should be noted:

  • Economic activities slowed in October. With the Purchasing Managers’ Index for manufacturing output and export orders for major economies (excluding the US) remaining below the critical 50 mark, there is a clear marker for economic challenges ahead.
  • Inflation in major advanced economies continued to ease from its peak in terms of Consumer Price Index (CPI), reaching between 3% and 4% for the US and for the EU respectively, in October. China’s CPI, however, indicated deflation for the second time this year, raising concerns of an economic slowdown.
  • Global trade reversed its downward trajectory and stabilized in September. Although below its 2022 peak, global cross-border trade is more than 5% above pre-pandemic levels.
  • After a continuous 17-month decline, cargo yields ticked-up in September and continued into October with a 2.6% month-on-month gain, remaining well-above pre-pandemic levels.

“Demand for air cargo was up 3.8% in October. That marks three consecutive months of year-on-year growth, placing air cargo on course to end 2023 on a much stronger footing than it began the year. Recovering demand, slightly stronger yields and the uptick in trade are all good news. But with demand still 2.4% below pre-pandemic levels, and much uncertainty remaining over the trajectory of the global economy, optimism must be balanced with caution. Nonetheless, a continued strong peak year-end season will certainly help the sector to manage through whatever turns the global economy might take in 2024,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

Air Cargo Market in Detail

October 2023 (%year-on-year) World Share *1 CTK ACTK CLF (%-pt) *2 CLF (level) *3
Total Market 100% 3.8% 13.1% -4.0% 45.2%
Africa 2.0% 2.9% 9.8% -2.8% 41.6%
Asia Pacific 32.4% 7.6% 30.0% -9.8% 47.2%
Europe 21.8% 1.0% 7.0% -3.2% 53.0%
Latin America 2.7% 4.0% 8.3% -1.5% 35.4%
Middle East 13.0% 10.9% 15.0% -1.7% 46.0%
North America 28.1% -1.8% 2.4% -1.7% 39.2%

 (*1) % of industry CTKs in 2022    (*2) Year-on-year change in load factor     (*3) Load factor level

October Regional Performance

Asia-Pacific airlines saw their air cargo volumes increase by 7.6% in October 2023 compared to the same month in 2022. This performance was close to par with the previous month (+7.7%). Carriers in the region benefited from ongoing growth in international CTK’s on three major trade lanes: Africa-Asia (+16.7%, the greatest annual growth since May), Middle East-Asia (+10.3%) and Europe-Asia (+8.5%). Available capacity for the region’s airlines increased by 30.0% compared to October 2022 as more belly capacity came online from the passenger side of the business (a year ago, the key Asian markets of Japan and China were still largely under severe COVID-19 travel restrictions).


North American carriers had the weakest performance in October with a 1.8% decrease (YoY) in cargo volumes. This was a slight improvement in performance compared to September (-2.2%). Although the North America-Asia trade lane recorded an increase in international CTK’s (from -1.8% in September to -0.9% in October) and the North America-Europe market saw a slight improvement in international CTK’s (from -2.7% in September to -2.1% in October), carriers in the region did not benefit significantly. Capacity increased by 2.4% compared to October 2022.

European carriers saw their air cargo volumes increase by 1.0% in October compared to the same month in 2022. This was a stronger performance than in September (-1.5%). Carriers in the region benefitted from the first growth in international CTK’s in the within Europe market since January 2022 (-4.2% in September vs +3.4% in October). Gains made from the expansion in the Middle East-Europe trade lane (+17.1% in October) also benefited carriers in the region. Capacity increased 7.0% in October 2023 compared to 2022.

Middle Eastern carriers had the strongest performance in October 2023, with a 10.9% year-on-year increase in cargo volumes. This was a significant improvement from the previous month’s performance (+2.5%). Carriers in the region benefited from growth in the Middle East–Asia (+10.3%) and Middle East–Europe markets (+17.1%). Capacity increased 15% compared to October 2022.

Latin American carriers experienced a 4.0% increase in cargo volumes compared to October 2022, a notable increase compared to the previous month’s gain (+2.3%). Capacity in October was up 8.3% compared to the same month in 2022.

African airlines saw their air cargo volumes increase by 2.9% in October 2023, much improved compared to September’s performance (-0.1%). Carriers in the region benefitted from the strongest annual growth since May (+16.7%). Capacity was 9.8% above October 2022 levels.

> View October 2023 Air Cargo Market Analysis (pdf)


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Notes for Editors:

  • * Please note that as of January 2020 onwards, we have clarified the terminology of the Industry and Regional series from ‘Freight’ to ‘Cargo’, the corresponding metrics being FTK (changed to ‘CTK’), AFTK (changed to ‘ACTK’), and FLF (changed to ‘CLF’), in order to reflect that the series have been consisting of Cargo (Freight plus Mail) rather than Freight only. The data series themselves have not been changed.
  • Explanation of measurement terms:
    - CTK: cargo tonne-kilometers measures actual cargo traffic
    - ACTK: available cargo tonne-kilometers measures available total cargo capacity
    - CLF: cargo load factor is % of ACTKs used
  • IATA statistics cover international and domestic scheduled air cargo for IATA member and non-member airlines.
  • Total cargo traffic market share by region of carriers in terms of CTK is: Asia-Pacific 32.4%, Europe 21.8%, North America 28.1%, Middle East 13.0%, Latin America 2.7%, and Africa 2.0%.