Air cargo is expected to continue growing in Latin America thanks to the growth of e-commerce through numerous channels such as Amazon, Alibaba, Facebook Marketplace, Linio and Mercado Libre. E-commerce in Mexico reached MX$401.3 billion (US$19.4 billion) in 2021, having experienced a growth of 27 percent compared to the previous year. Because of this, e-commerce accounts for 11.3 percent of total retail sales.
“The reliance on e-commerce is not likely to change. IBM estimates that COVID-19 accelerated the five-year growth of e-commerce; it is the segment of the air cargo sector with a year-on-year growth of 27.6 percent,” said Rafael Echevarne, Director, Airports Council International in Latin America (ACI-LAC), to A21.
Mexico is one of the countries with the most significant weight of e-commerce, surpassing the world average and developed markets such as France, Germany, Italy and Brazil, according to the Mexican Association of Online Sales (AMVO).
Due to the high volumes of e-commerce, procedures have to be up to date so importers and exporters can act as fast as possible. In this scenario, air cargo plays an essential role. Global demand for air cargo increased by 6.9 percent in 2021 compared to 2019 and 18.7 percent compared to 2020, according to IATA. This was the second-largest year-on-year increase in demand since the agency began monitoring air cargo performance in 1990. Global cargo air transport has seen continuous growth over the last ten years, but experienced a drop in 2019 from 221,496 million tons per kilometer to 180,531 tons in 2020. The greater adoption of e-commerce during quarantine led to the sector’s recovery, according to data from the World Bank. Mexico specifically experienced a growth in air cargo of 27 percent between 2020 and 2021.
In 2022, e-commerce and omnichannel models will continue to register accelerated growth as more consumers join financial services, according to AMVO. To take advantage of opportunities in e-commerce, the sector must embrace technological tools and talent. The unprecedented growth is causing new challenges in the air cargo industry, as it struggles to meet demand especially now as all-cargo operations are expected to move from Mexico City International Airport to Felipe Ángeles International Airport, as previously reported by MBN.