The air cargo market is soaring this year and 2022 is looking even better. IATA estimates that cargo volume will grow 7.9% in 2021 compared to 2019 and demand will heat up to 13.2% above pre-pandemic levels.
Cargo revenues are expected to reach a record $175 billion in 2021 and stay near that level at $169 billion in 2022 as cargo yields soften from 15% to 7% growth. Airlines generated $128 billion in cargo revenue last year, also a historic high.
Positive news on the airfreight side of the business was tempered by the estimate that airlines will lose $51.8 billion this year because of reduced passenger travel. But the financial picture is much improved from last year’s $137.7 billion loss.
“We are past the deepest point of the crisis. While serious issues remain, the path to recovery is coming into view,” IATA Director General Willie Walsh said.
Global airfreight demand in 2020 decreased 10.6% Y/Y, the largest decline since IATA began monitoring cargo performance in 1990. The negative growth was primarily from the first half of the year when COVID shut down much of the global economy and crippled passenger travel. During the second half of the year, cargo volume came roaring back as companies tried to quickly restart production and sales.