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Dubai: Air cargo demand continues to outperform compared to pre-COVID-19 levels from two years ago, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), was up 12 per cent compared to April 2019 and 7.8 per cent compared to March 2021. Seasonally adjusted demand is now 5 per cent higher than the pre-crisis August 2018 peak.

“Air cargo continues to be the good news story for the air transport sector,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director-General, in a statement. “And yields are solid - Some regions are outperforming the global trend, most notably carriers in North America, the Middle East and Africa.”

North American carriers contributed 7.5 percentage points to the growth rate in April. Airlines in all other regions except for Latin America also supported the growth.

Middle Eastern carriers posted a 15.3 per cent rise in international cargo volumes in April compared to 2019. “This was a significant improvement compared to the previous month,” said IATA.

Seasonally adjusted volumes remained on a “robust upward trend,” said IATA, adding that international capacity in April was down 17.5 per cent compared to the same month in 2019.

Capacity constraints

Capacity remains 9.7 per cent below pre-COVID-19 levels (April 2019) due to the ongoing grounding of passenger aircraft. Airlines continue to use dedicated freighters to plug the lack of available belly capacity.

International capacity from dedicated freighters rose 26.2 per cent in April 2021 compared to the same month in 2019, while belly-cargo capacity dropped by 38.5 per cent