International Air Freight
The transportation industry experienced some unprecedented statistics during the first quarter of 2020. The coronavirus outbreak, among other things, caused several heavy hits to the air freight industry, including travel limitations, manufacturing disruptions and supply chain disorientation.
January – Trouble in China
According to the IATA Air Cargo Market Analysis, the month of January saw approximately a 3.3% decline in air freight volumes, when compared to January 2019. The timing of the Chinese New Year, an international trade war and COVID-19 were among the top contributors to this drop.
As trade tension between China and the US played out, the public began to gain knowledge of the coronavirus outbreak that originated in Wuhan. Also, the Chinese New Year fell at an interesting time in relation to other developments around the world. Business closures due to the 2-week celebration of the holiday made it challenging to make clear sense of the true impact of the virus at the time.
February – COVID Awareness
In February, the noticeable effects of the coronavirus started to kick in. Factors such as passenger flights and belly capacity came into play. As concerns surrounding the virus grew, people became hesitant to engage in international air travel, especially to and from China. During the month, passenger airlines started cancelling flights across the globe, particularly in Asia.
Additionally, the belly capacity of passenger flights dropped by a startling 18%. This simply refers to the cargo that is transported on international passenger flights. As passenger flights decreased, so did the ability to transport goods on those flights.
Overall, international air freight volumes dipped 9% in the month of February. As we will see in future posts, this was just the beginning!