Transportation & Logistics Analysis

Air Freight 2021 - The recovery has brought major changes

February 11 2022

In 2021, global air freight volumes overtook their pre-pandemic level and freight rates broke all records. This has stimulated investment by the airlines, the freight forwarders...and the shipping companies!

Air transport is high on the list of activities which will see its future radically affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2020, it was hit hard by the introduction of flight restrictions intended to stop the virus circulating. These restrictions hit passenger traffic hardest but nevertheless had an impact on freight traffic, 60% of which had been transported in the holds of passenger aircraft prior to the pandemic's arrival.

Although the airlines had been hoping for an early recovery in 2021, the arrival of successive new waves of the pandemic put paid to these hopes. Capacity stayed below pre-pandemic levels and companies were forced to take account of changes in the travel habits of their business customers. It seems likely that, even when the pandemic is over, online meetings will be replacing some business travel on a long-term basis. The airlines will need to re-examine the fundamentals on which their mixed flight operating accounts were based and review their strategies in the cargo sector.


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  • Cargo volumes higher than before the crisis
  • Persistent capacity deficit
  • International traffic stimulated by recovery in the US
  • Slowdown in price increases expected in 2022
  • Market favours new aircraft orders and attracts new operators



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Graduated from the Superior School of Journalism in Lille, Anne spent most of her career in the international trade and logistics press, before joining Upply.
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