The air transport industry is deemed essential in the face of the current outbreak, being the means of transport that regularly distributes crucial goods such as medical equipment, inputs and supplies, as well as other essential assets for the functioning of a country. However, since the beginning of the pandemic, it has displayed an overall downturn. The air cargo performance demonstrated a severe capacity shortfall at a global scale:
✓ Global demand, which includes both domestic and international markets, fell by 15.2% in March compared to the previous year (-15.8% for international markets), measured in cargo tonne kilometres (CTKs).
✓ Global capacity (the supply side) shrank by 22.7% in March compared to the previous year (-24.6% for international markets), measured in available cargo tonne kilometres (ACTKs).
International markets account for 87% of air cargo. Within this transportation segment, belly capacity –the share of cargo capacity that is shipped in the hold of commercial aircrafts– air cargo shrank by 43.7% in March compared to the previous year. This was partially offset by a 6.2% increase in capacity through expanded use of freighter aircraft, including the use of idle passenger aircraft for all-cargo operations. Figure 1 shows year-on-year change of air cargo capacity, both in dedicated freighters and belly cargo.