Middle East carriers witnessing strongest recovery in air cargo demand

‘Aggressive operational strategies’ drive recovery in Middle Eastern air freight market
Etihad Cargo
Etihad Cargo


Demand for air cargo among Middle Eastern carriers grew more than 7% between June and July, the sharpest increase of any region and nearly 5% greater than the global average.

That is according to new data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which said that the recovery was being driven by “aggressive operational strategies”.

Middle East carriers reported a decline of almost 15% in year-on-year international cargo volumes in July, an improvement from the 19% fall in June. International capacity decreased just over 27%, the most resilient of all regions.  

Globally, belly capacity for international air cargo shrank by 70.5% in July compared to the previous year owing to the withdrawal of passenger services amid the Covid-19 pandemic. This was partially offset by a near 30% increase in capacity through expanded use of freighter aircraft.

“Economic indicators are improving, but we have not yet seen that fully reflected in growing air cargo shipments,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA's CEO.

“That said, air cargo is much stronger than the passenger side of the business. And one of our biggest challenges remains accommodating demand with severely reduced capacity.

“If borders remain closed, travel curtailed and passenger fleets grounded, the ability of air cargo to keep the global economy moving will be challenged.”

African airlines posted a contraction in demand of 3% in July. This was down from a 3.8% increase in demand in June. The small Africa-Asia market continued to support the region’s performance. International capacity decreased 33.7%.

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