Africa retains top spot in air cargo with 33.9pc growth

Tuesday October 05 2021

At 33.9 percent, the growth in Africa’s international cargo volumes was the largest increase of all regions during the month. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


Africa maintained its position at the top of world air cargo performance rankings, growing nearly 40 percent in August as the global airline industry continues on its recovery from Covid-19 pandemic effects.

Global air cargo market data for August 2021 released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), shows strong overall growth with demand up 7.7 percent, well above the long-term average growth trend of 4.7 percent.

At 33.9 percent, the growth in Africa’s international cargo volumes was the largest increase of all regions during the month, supported by strong investment flows along the Africa-Asia route. Volumes on that particular route were up 26.4 percent relative to 2019 amid a 2.2 percent shrinkage in the capacity deployed on international routes.

Strong performance

Africa’s fortunes were in sharp contrast to Latin America whose airlines suffered a 14 percent slump in international cargo volumes in August compared to 2019, the weakest performance of all regions. The region also had the largest reduction in capacity with international capacity decrease 27.1 in the period. Although it accounts for only a two percent share of the air cargo market, the African region has for several years outperformed the rest of world in operation terms, posting growth where the rest were stagnant.

North America which posted an 18 percent increase came second to Africa, followed by the Middle East at 15.4 percent. Europe and Asia Pacific increased six and three percent.


American demand is benefitting from an increase in new export orders and demand for faster shipping times. The Middle-East continues to benefit from strong performance on the arterial Middle East–Asia trade lanes.

European airlines posted a six percent increase in international cargo volumes as manufacturing activity, orders and long supplier delivery times remain stable.

The Asia-Pacific saw growth in international air cargo volumes slow to three percent in August compared to the same month in 2019 reflecting softening growth and congested supply chains within Asia and along the Europe-Asia routes.