The Future of International Air Cargo Services

What are international cargo services?  Simply, international cargo refers to any goods being transported through an air carrier. Airfreight, as most call it is arguably the most valuable form of transport due to its nature. Freight transported by an air carrier is the fastest mode of transportation for international freight, and domestic freight if moving across large areas. Due to its fast nature, it’s critical for the markets that demand speed and reliability. 

According to IATA, the International Air Transport Association, “air cargo transports over US $6 trillion worth of goods, accounting for approximately 35% of world trade by value.”  

When looking at the future of our air freight markets, we have to look at the past few years and the effects COVID-19 had on the air market trade, specifically. In the first half of 2020, associated with COVID-19, there was a large decline in capacity specifically with passenger cargo, largely due to canceled flights because of tightening space. Once COVID was in full swing, there was a “pandemic-related increase” specifically for PPE, and other specific commodities associated with health and protective gear, affecting both imports and exports to and from the US.  Other regions throughout the global trade also saw the increase in air cargo, especially the in Asia-North America routes. 

2 years later, we see the international air cargo services slowly becoming steady once again. According to IATA in 2022, “The global aviation industry will post a net loss of $11.6 billion, compared to a $51.8 billion loss in 2021”. We can also expect the demands to rise again, 61 percent of the pre-pandemic numbers, as compared to a 40 percent rise in 2021. 

Where we can expect the biggest growth is national. Internationally, most countries are lessening their restrictions on air travel, which is a driving force on domestic air travel, however, IATA has published that the losses nationally and internationally from COVID-19 have taken a tremendous toll. “The magnitude of the COVID-19 crisis for airlines is enormous,” commented Willie Walsh, IATA’s director-general. “We are well past the deepest point of the crisis. While serious issues remain, the path to recovery is coming into view. Aviation is demonstrating its resilience yet again.”