African airlines faced a setback in August, with cargo volumes dropping by 4.7 percent compared to the same period in 2022, marking the region’s weakest performance, as reported in the latest update from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

This decline was a notable contrast to the previous month, which saw a 2.3 percent increase in performance.

Of particular interest, the routes between Africa and Asia experienced a 1.1 percent decline in August, following an impressive 11.2 percent growth in July.

Meanwhile, capacity levels in August 2023 exceeded those of August 2022 by 3.8 percent. It’s worth noting that Africa accounts for just two percent of the global air cargo market, as mentioned in the IATA update.

On a global scale, demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometres (CTKs), registered a 1.5 percent uptick in August 2023 compared to the previous year, marking the first year-on-year increase in almost 20 months.

For international operations, this increase stood at 1.2 percent. Notably, available cargo tonne-kilometres (ACTKs) saw a significant rise of 12.2 percent in August 2023 compared to the same month in 2022, with international operations also showing growth at 11.8 percent.

This surge was primarily attributed to a 30 percent year-on-year increase in belly capacity as airlines ramped up their operations to meet the heightened demand during the peak of the northern summer travel season.

In August, there was a slight improvement in both the manufacturing output Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) at 49.4 and the new export orders PMI at 47.0 compared to the previous month.

However, both remained below the critical threshold of 50, indicating a continuing, albeit slower, annual decline in global manufacturing production and exports.

Global cross-border trade experienced its fourth consecutive monthly contraction in July, with a 3.2 percent year-over-year decrease. This reflects the cooling demand environment and prevailing macroeconomic conditions.

Willie Walsh, the Director General of IATA, said the growth recorded globally was encouraging, however, he pointed out that it is essential to keep in mind that this growth is coming from a relatively low base in 2022, and market signals remain mixed.

“Air cargo demand grew by 1.5 percent over the previous August. This marks the first year-on-year growth in 19 months, which is certainly encouraging news.”

“Looking ahead, while uncertainties persist, we can draw some optimism from the PMI data inching closer to positive territory as we approach the traditional peak year-end season for air cargo,” he said.