International air freight volumes fell by 22.6% in December compared to a year earlier.
The International Air Transport Association said on Thursday "the bottom is nowhere in sight" as world trade slumps.
All regions showed major declines in international freight traffic, according to IATA. Asia-Pacific carriers, who make up 45% of the air cargo market, were hit hardest.
According to IATA, global airlines are expected to post $US2.5 billion in losses in 2009 after losing $US5 billion last year.
The figures came a day after a gloomy outlook from the International Monetary Fund which sees the global economy at a virtual standstill, forecast to grow 0.5% in 2009.
International air cargo traffic was down 4% for all of 2008.