File image from another time... Demand during this year's gifting season will be just as high, but there isn't enough capacity to fly them around. (Image used for illustrative purposes.) Image Credit: AP

Dubai: The rate of recovery in global air cargo demand is starting to dip, with October volume growth coming up short compared to September. This is because of a capacity crunch, according to the latest updates from IATA (International Air Travel Association), the industry grouping.

Global capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), shrank by 22.6 per cent in October compared to the previous year. “That is nearly four times larger than the contraction in demand, indicating the continuing and severe capacity crunch,” said IATA.

Demand in October - as measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs) - was 6.2 per cent below previous year level. “Demand for air cargo is coming back—a trend we see continuing into the fourth quarter," said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA's Director-General and CEO. "The biggest problem for air cargo is the lack of capacity as much of the passenger fleet remains grounded.”

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No regional lift

Middle Eastern carriers reported a fall of 1.9 per cent in year-on-year international cargo volumes in October, and unchanged from September. Much like the rest of the world, the rate of recovery in October was slower than in September due to less demand on Africa-Middle East sector.

Critical situation

“The end of the year is always peak season for air cargo - that will likely be exaggerated with shoppers relying on e-commerce and 80 per cent of which is delivered by air,” said de Juniac. “The capacity crunch from the grounded aircraft will hit particularly hard and will become even more critical as we search for capacity for the impending vaccine deliveries.”