April 2021 may be remembered by some as the month in which at least part of the air cargo figures returned to some kind of normality. Although worldwide volumes were up by 53% and wide-body capacity by a ‘matching’ 51% year-over-year (“YoY”), air cargo increased by a much more ‘normal’ 3% when compared to April 2019. Yet, it is not unjustified to speak of a business continuing to be turned upside down, as many other measures were not even near ‘normal’…

The average rate/kg went up from an already ‘unheard of’ level of USD 3.12 in March to USD 3.30, even though it came down by 12% from the crazy level of April 2020. Wide-body freighter capacity increased by 1% YoY, but what to think of the changing role of w/b passenger aircraft? They produced one-fifth of total cargo capacity in April 2020, when many passenger flights were cancelled. A year later, the figures are completely different: in April 2021,  cargo capacity on w/b passenger aircraft almost tripled YoY, and comes very close to the total capacity produced on w/b freighters…

Breaking down some of our data, we see that product categories showed varying YoY-results in April. General cargo (+61%), live animals (+78%) and flowers (+67%) did better than average, as the latter two categories also managed to further increase their rates compared to April 2020! The usual drivers of special cargo did not fulfil their role this month:  vulnerable/high-tech (+30%) and pharma (-3%) were lagging far behind the average growth of 53% realised this month, but they increased most when comparing them with April 2019! Contrary to what one may have thought, the market share of the world’s 20 largest forwarders did not change, even though three fell out of the group to be replaced by three others. Growth percentages within this group varied between 17.5 % and 130 %.

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