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IATA: Asia-Pacific airlines lead global air cargo growth in April with 14% surge

IATA: Asia-Pacific airlines lead global air cargo growth in April with 14% surge

The latest data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reveals a dynamic performance across global air cargo markets in April, with Asia-Pacific airlines leading the charge.

In April 2024, total demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), increased by an impressive 11.1% compared to April 2023, with international operations witnessing an 11.6% rise. This consistent growth underscores the essential role of air cargo in the global supply chain.


Capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), also saw a substantial increase of 7.1% year-on-year, with international capacity up by 10.2%. This capacity growth, however, still lags behind the surge in demand, leading to higher load factors and tighter market conditions.

IATA’s Director General, Willie Walsh, highlighted the positive economic indicators supporting this growth. “Air cargo demand started Q2 with a solid 11.1% increase. While many economic uncertainties remain, it appears that the roots of air cargo’s strong performance are deepening,” Walsh noted. He pointed out that recent months saw air cargo demand rise even when the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) suggested potential contraction. With the PMI now indicating growth, the outlook for continued strong demand is even more promising.

In April, the PMIs for global manufacturing output and new export orders turned positive for the first time in two years, reaching 51.5 and 50.5, respectively. Additionally, industrial production increased by 1.6% year-on-year in March, while global cross-border trade contracted by 0.8%. Inflation rates remained relatively stable across major economies, which further supports the optimistic outlook for the air cargo sector.

IATA: April Regional Performance

  • Asia-Pacific: Airlines in this region experienced the highest year-on-year demand growth at 14.0%, driven by strong intra-Asia and Asia-Europe trade routes, which grew by 13.2% and 17.7% respectively. Capacity in the region increased by 7.8%.
  • North America: The region saw the weakest growth among all regions at 7.0%. However, demand on the Asia-North America route grew by 7.3%, and the North America-Europe route saw a 5.6% increase. Capacity rose by 4.0%.
  • Europe: European carriers reported a 12.7% growth in demand, with intra-European cargo witnessing a significant 34.4% increase. Europe-Middle East routes grew by 30.1%. Capacity in Europe increased by 10.3%.
  • Middle East: Carriers here saw a 9.4% increase in demand, with notable growth on Middle East-Europe routes at 30.1%. Capacity rose by 5.7%.
  • Latin America: This region saw a demand increase of 11.7%, with capacity growing by 9.8%.
  • Africa: African airlines experienced a 10.6% increase in demand, with the Africa-Asia market growing by a remarkable 25.8%. Capacity in Africa increased by 18.7%

The continued strong growth in air cargo demand as evidenced by the April 2024 data underscores the critical role of air freight in global trade. Despite challenges such as capacity constraints and economic uncertainties, the air cargo industry remains resilient and poised for further growth. With positive economic indicators and a robust outlook, the sector is well-positioned to continue supporting global supply chains effectively.


This sustained growth highlights the air cargo industry’s adaptability and importance in meeting the dynamic needs of global trade and logistics.

Ajinkya Gurav


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