MasKargo aircraft being loaded with cargo. File Photo: Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: The demand for global air freight has dropped by 27.7 per cent in April compared to the same period in 2019, the sharpest fall ever recorded, revealed the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The trade association for the world’s airlines said there was insufficient capacity, down 42 per cent in April, to meet demand as a result of the loss of belly cargo operations on passenger aircraft.

Director-general and chief executive officer Alexandre de Juniac said the result has been damaging to global supply chains with longer shipping times and higher costs.

He said airlines were deploying as much capacity as possible, including special charter operations and the temporary use of passenger cabins for cargo.

“Governments need to continue to ensure that vital supply lines remain open and efficient.

“While many have responded with speed and clarity to facilitate the movement of cargo, government red-tape, particularly in Africa and Latin America, is preventing the industry from flexibly deploying aircraft to meet the demands of the pandemic and the global economy,” he said in a statement today.

According to data, airlines in the Asia Pacific region saw demand for international air cargo fall by 28.1 per cent in April 2020, compared to the same period a year earlier.

However, the large Asia-North America market recorded less of a decline (7.3 per cent) due to the rise in the movement of personal protective equipment.

International capacity in the region decreased by 42.5 per cent.

IATA also urged governments to accelerate approvals for cargo operations, expedite customs clearance for urgently needed medical supplies as well as ensure there is adequate staff on the ground and land-based infrastructure to move cargo efficiently. – Bernama