Air cargo growth continues in February, up 2.9%

Date Added: 8 April 2022

Air cargo growth continues in February, up 2.9%

With a strong presence in the airfreight arena through our subsidiary Davies Turner Air Cargo, we note that global air cargo demand increased in February despite a challenging operating backdrop, according to figures just released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Several factors benefited air cargo last month compared to January, IATA points out. On the demand side, manufacturing activity ramped up quickly after the early February Lunar New Year holiday, while capacity was positively influenced by the general and progressive relaxation of Covid-19 travel restrictions, reduced flight cancellations due to Omicron-related factors (outside of Asia), and fewer winter weather operational disruptions.

Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometres was up 2.9% compared to February 2021 (2.5% for international operations).

Capacity was 12.5% above February 2021 (8.9% for international operations). While this is in positive territory, compared to pre-Covid-19 levels, capacity remains constrained, 5.6% below February 2019 levels.

IATA points to several factors that should be taken into account in the operating environment.

General consumer price inflation for the G7 countries was at 6.3% year-on-year in February 2022, the highest since late 1982. While inflation normally curtails purchasing power, this is balanced against higher savings levels coming out of the pandemic.

The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) indicator tracking global new export orders fell to 48.2 in March. This was the lowest since July 2020, indicating that a majority of surveyed businesses reported a fall in new export orders.

The zero-Covid policy in mainland China and Hong Kong continues to create supply chain disruptions as a result of flight cancellations due to labour shortages, and because many manufacturers cannot operate normally.

The impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had limited effect globally on February’s performance as it occurred very near the end of the month. The negative impacts of war and related sanctions (particularly higher energy costs and reduced trade) would become more visible from March, said Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general. 

“Demand for air cargo continued to expand despite growing challenges in the trading environment. That is not likely to be the case in March as the economic consequences of the war in Ukraine take hold. Sanction-related shifts in manufacturing and economic activity, rising oil prices and geopolitical uncertainty will take their toll on air cargo’s performance,” he added.

On a regional basis, North American carriers posted the biggest increase of 6.1% last year compared to 2021. This is attributed to the ramp-up of manufacturing activity in China following the end of the Lunar New Year, which resulted in growth in the Asia–North America market, with seasonally adjusted volumes rising by 4.3% in February. Capacity was up 13.4% compared to February 2021.

African airlines saw cargo volumes increase by 4.6% in February last year compared to February 2021. Capacity was 8.2% above 2021 levels.

In the IATA/CASS league table for 2020, Davies Turner Air Cargo became the UK’s highest placed independent freight forwarder, measured by CASS airline tonnage and for more information about its global air freight forwarding and logistics services, please contact or visit

Would you like more information?

I would like to opt-in to receive marketing communications from Davies Turner via:

Track your consignment online to get the latest status

Our core products – in air, ocean, overland forwarding and customs services, as well as in warehouse management and distribution

Click here to track your package

Back To Top

An image of the Top track logo An image of the ROSPA Gold award logo An image of the bureau veritas logo An image of the investor in people logo An image of the system alliance europe logo An image of the iata logo An image of the aeo logo An image of the bifa logo An image of the ukwa logo