Cargo Aviation demand endures pandemic
12/08/21 – WINGX’s Cargo Aviation Bulletin
The Covid-19 pandemic has turned the table on the way people travel; scheduled airlines continue to lag behind pre-pandemic activity levels whilst business aviation is booming to fulfil leisure demand, airfreight activity has remained stable throughout.
Global airfreight activity remains stable and has done so throughout the pandemic. Year to date just under 700,000 air freight sectors have been flown globally, 7% above pre-pandemic levels and 11% above 2020 levels. For the calendar month of July almost 100,000 sectors were flown, 6% above pre-pandemic levels and 5% above 2020. Despite the overall steady growth, for the first 8 days of August there were almost 3% fewer air freight sectors than the same 8 days in August 2019.
Chart 1: Global Air Freight Activity 1st – 31st July
In the North American region activity was up 5% versus 2019 and 3% more active than July 2020. The region saw just under 200 more active aircraft for the month of July versus 2019, average sector hours had also increased by 10% versus 2019. The Boeing 767-300 appears to offer the sweet spot, making up the largest amount of flights in the region (28%), the smaller Boeing 757-200 follows with a 14% share of flights.
At Memphis International, the busiest cargo hub in the United States, departures were down 5% vs July 2020, although up 6% vs July pre-pandemic. Other US cargo hubs, Ted Stevens Anchorage International and Miami International saw single figure growth vs 2020 and significant growth vs 2019. Indianapolis International has seen excellent year on year growth for air freight. During the pandemic the airport had 20% more cargo departures than 2019. During July this year, cargo departures were almost 50% higher than 2019, up 23% on July 2020.
Chart 2 – Top 10 Cargo Aviation vs Scheduled Aviation destinations from Memphis, 1st-31st July 2021
In the European region air freight is lower than pre-pandemic levels for the month of July. For the calendar month of July air freight sectors were down 3% vs 2019, but up 11% vs 2020. Year to date is more promising, with just over 1% more air freight sectors flown vs the same period in 2019. The region saw just a handful of fewer active aircraft compared to 2019, average sector hours had increased by 8% vs July 2019. The Boeing 737-400 was the most popular air freight platform for July with a 27% share of the flights for the month. The 757-200 was the second most popular platform with just under 2,500 fewer sectors. A few platforms have seen over 100% growth in air freight sectors compared to 2020, namely the Boeing 737-800 and Airbus A330-300.
Europe’s busiest cargo hub, Leipzig/Halle, saw 17% more air freight departures in July 2021 vs 2020 and 27% more than pre-pandemic July. A handful of airports have seen large growth in air freight departures vs 2019: Milan Malpensa – 115% vs July 2019, Rome Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino – 94% vs July 2019 and Dublin – 60% vs July 2019.
Chart 3 – Top 10 Cargo Aviation vs Scheduled Aviation destinations from Leipzig 1st-31st July 2021
Rest of World
Outside of the North American and European regions appears to be the big growth areas for air freight. In July, air freight departures in Asia were up 33% vs 2019 and up 14% vs 2020. The Oceania region saw 18% fewer air freight flights in July compared to 2020, but 23% more than 2019. Air freight activity is within 2% of July 2019 in the Caribbean, meanwhile in the Middle East July 2021 saw almost half the activity of July 2019.
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