May 2021 IATA Air Freight Market Analysis 
Published July 7, 2021.  

Air cargo trends higher and outperforms global goods trade


  • Air cargo continued to perform well in May 2021, as industry-wide cargo tonne-kilometres (CTKs) rose by 9.4% compared to pre-crisis levels in May 2019. That said, that was a slowdown from the 11.3% growth rate seen in April, with month-on-month growth in seasonally adjusted traffic (0.4%) also decelerating.
  • Supply chain conditions and economic activity are supportive of air cargo, helping it post a fifth consecutive month of overperformance versus global goods trade. But there are signs of a stabilization in growth in manufacturing output in some key economies, as consumption shifts from goods to services.
  • Air cargo capacity continues to slowly improve despite the lack of international passenger traffic. Having said that, the market remains tight, with no clear decline in cargo load factors.

African airlines' growth slows
Growth in international CTKs registered by African airlines moderated in May to 24.5%, but that was down from a brisk 34.0%. This was mostly driven by a deceleration in the strong trade flows between Africa and Asia, from 29% vs 2019 in April 2021 to 19% in May 2021.

Global air cargo trended higher in May…

May was another month of strong air cargo performance, but a moderate slowdown was apparent in the pace of growth. Indeed, industry-wide cargo tonne-kilometres (CTKs) increased by 9.4% in May 2021 versus pre-crisis levels in May 2019. This was down from 11.3% in April 2021 versus 2019...Download the full document here.