Growth of passenger traffic will go hand in hand with the growth of air cargo and developing infrastructure to sustain that growth is of paramount importance. Amitabh Khosla, IATA’s Country Director, India, emphasis on the eminent role played by air cargo during the pandemic times.
Q1. How is the Air cargo sector gearing up post pandemic?
Air cargo was a lifeline for airlines during the pandemic. Globally it accounted for 36% and 40% of airline industry revenue in 2020 and 2021, and is expected to account for 24% this year. Cargo yields increased 52.5% in 2020 and 24.2% in 2021. With more passenger flights resuming, the yield is expected to fall -10.4% in 2022.
Air cargo demand exceeded 2019 levels in 2021, and the industry is expected to carry over 68 million tonnes of cargo in 2022, which is a record high.
As of May, cargo demand was 8.3% below May 2021, while capacity was 2.7% above May 2021.
Q2. Do you still feel that the airlines need to convert to preighters or freighters in order to maintain their revenue?
That very much depends on their business model. They will have to consider various factors, including falling cargo yields compared to the highs of 2020 and 2021.
Also, preighters became an option when states closed borders and passenger demand collapsed during the pandemic. It made sense then for airlines to make use of their passenger aircraft. With passenger demand recovering strongly and expected to reach over 80% of 2019 levels this year, airlines will have to decide how best to deploy their aircraft fleet.
Q3. The Indian government is keen on developing the cargo sector to the next level. Your views on the same.
We welcome the government’s intent to develop the cargo sector. India is a growing economy with promise. The growth of passenger traffic will go hand in hand with the growth of air cargo, and infrastructure development to sustain that growth is of paramount importance.