Air cargo traffic recovers to pre-pandemic levels

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Mar 03 2021 08:37 AM

An airplane flies over a Premier Inn hotel at Heathrow Airport, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in London, Britain, February 12, 2021. Peter Cziborra, Reuters/File

PARIS - Air freight traffic has returned to pre-pandemic levels, the International Air Transport Association said Tuesday, but passenger traffic slumped further in January.

IATA global demand as measured in tons of cargo shipped per kilometer was up 1.1 percent compared to January 2019 and rose by 3 percent from December 2020.

Capacity is down nearly 20 percent from January 2019 and fell 5 percent from December 2020, however, as airlines have taken out of service passenger jets that also transport cargo.

But for passenger traffic, which generates some 85 percent of revenues for airlines, the situation has gone "from bad to worse", said IATA, which represents most airlines.

Passenger traffic, measured as revenue per passenger kilometer, was down by 72 percent in January from the same month last year. 

That is worse than the 69.7 percent annual drop registered in December.

Airlines lost out on $510 billion in revenue in 2020, IATA said last month, but it hopes for a strong recovery in traffic in the second half of this year as countries roll out their vaccination campaigns. 

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