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Carriers are still doing the heavy lifting even as global air cargo capacity gets cut. Belly capacity for international air cargo shrank by 70 per cent last month from a year ago. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: The global air cargo industry is having a much “healthier” time of it than the passenger category - but doing business is still “exceptionally challenging”," according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Global air cargo demand dropped 17.6 percent in June, compared to the same month last year, while capacity shrank by more than a quarter. Due to the withdrawal of passenger plane services, belly capacity for international air cargo shrank by 70 per cent last month compared to a year earlier.

This was partially offset by a 32 per cent increase in capacity through expanded use of freighter aircraft, IATA said.

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“While economic activity is re-starting after major lockdown disruptions, there has not been a major boost in demand,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA's Director-General and CE). “The rush to get personal protective equipment (PPE) to market has subsided as supply chains regularized, enabling shippers to use cheaper sea and rail options. And the capacity crunch continues because passenger operations are recovering very slowly.”

The massive global response to the COVID-19 resulted in the suspension of passenger flights, while disrupting complex supply chains between countries. In the Middle East, aviation supports $130 billion in economic activity, equivalent to 4.4 per cent of the region’s GDP.

Middle Eastern carriers reported a 19.1 per cent fall in international air cargo demand in June as global capacity decreased due to “aggressive” operational strategies of some of the region’s carriers, IATA said.