Carriers in the Middle East continued to see lower air cargo volumes in May compared to a year ago, although global demand showed an improvement due to easing Omicron restrictions in China.

Measured in cargo tonne-kilometres (CTKs), demand in the region was 11.6 percent below May 2021 levels, while capacity was up 7.6 percent over the same period, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported on Tuesday. Demand in the region had posted a similar year-on-year decline of 11.9 percent in April.

"Significant benefits from traffic being redirected to avoid flying over Russia failed to materialise. This is likely due to persisting supply chain issues in Asia," IATA said.

Overall, the month of May still "offered positive news" for the air cargo industry, IATA said.

Global demand dropped by 8.3 percent compared to May 2021, but this was an improvement compared to the year-on-year decline of 9.1 percent seen in April.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, air cargo also posted a 0.3 percent growth after two months of decline, supported by the return of production in Asia after COVID-19 measures eased. The rebound in passenger traffic has also increased belly capacity for carriers.

"The easing of Omicron restrictions in China helped to alleviate supply chain constraints and contributed a performance improvement in May," IATA said.

IATA noted that trade activity went up slightly in May after China loosened its restrictions. However, new export orders were still down in all markets, except China.

Cargo performance in other regions

In Asia Pacific, cargo volumes fell 6.6 percent year-on-year, but this was still a significant improvement over the 15.8 percent decline recorded in April.

Carriers in North America recorded a 5.7 percent drop in volumes, while Latin American carriers reported an increase of 13.8 percent in cargo volumes.

African airlines posted a 1.5 percent decline, which was significantly slower than the 6.3 percent growth seen in the previous month.

(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Daniel Luiz)