The latest March figures from WorldACD showed a 19 percent year-on-year drop in global air cargo volumes compared to March 2019.

Despite this decline, capacity shortages in the second half of the month led to a sharp increase in rates.

There has also been a decline in volumes for the first quarter as a whole – down 9 percent year-on-year. The one product category that grew was pharmaceuticals, which was up 7 percent.

The data also showed that the number of flights performed during March by Boeing 747 aircraft was 34 percent higher than in February.

While capacity shortages have hit worldwide, The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) has raised its concern that Africa has been hit harder than other regions. According to CLIVE Data Services, capacity connecting Europe and Africa has dropped by 70 percent compared to 2019.

TIACA is calling on all stakeholders – institutional and private alike – to take action without delay to contain this phenomenon. “We are encouraging African airlines to respond to capacity requirements immediately, in particular by putting passenger freighter systems in place, such as those implemented by airlines including Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, SAA and RwandAir,” said Sanjeev Gadhia, TIACA vice chairman and ceo of Astral Aviation.

“Collaboration and cooperation between African airlines across their respective fleets and networks are both essential so we can overcome the challenges we are facing,” he added.