Freight volumes have grown 13 per cent in the first two months of 2017 at Milan Malpensa Airport (pictured), following three years of growth averaging eight per cent, operator SEA Group tells Air Cargo Week.
Volumes were up 7.4 per cent in 2016 to 537,000 tonnes, and the positive momentum seen in the last quarter of the year is continuing into 2017.
In 2016, Malpensa was the second fastest growing airport in Europe after Madrid.
SEA says: “Thanks to a very positive economic trend for air cargo transport, especially in the last part of the year and in the peak winter season, most of the freighters operating in Milan Malpensa showed good results forecasting positive expectations for their investments in terms of flights and capacity offer.”
SEA is confident that cargo traffic will keep growing in 2017, with a stable economic situation and strong imports and exports, and recovering road feeder service volumes.
It says: “The leading operators already based in Malpensa, both courier and full freighters, will consolidate their presence and their performance with an increase in average payloads.
“Moreover we are expecting a new cargo airline to commence soon while MNG Airlines has just started their new operations with two weekly flights to Istanbul.”
As well as new airlines, Malpensa has been expanded facilities with the inauguration of FedEx’s 15,000 square metre Southern Europe logistic hub, and a second 15,000 sq m warehouse to be ready by next autumn, to be rented to cargo handlers WFS and Beta Trans. DHL Express is to commence construction of its new Italian gateway totaling 46,000 sq m to be operative by the end of 2018.
SEA says: “The medium term plans foresee “second line” warehouses dedicated to freight forwarding companies and e-commerce operators (an area of approx. 100,000 sq m is available) that will help in making more efficient the Italian air cargo logistics chain.”
It says there has been an increase in small packages driven by e-commerce and growth from more heavy packages and a greater number of pieces per shipment.
General cargo has remained largely the same in recent years, with goods including clothes, garments, shoes, sports cars, machinery, spare parts and perishables including fresh fruit and vegetables, wine and flowers.
Pharmaceuticals have been a growth area, and cargo handlers Alha and BCube gaining International Air Transport Association Center of Excellence for Independent Validators in Pharmaceutical Logistics certification following investments to improve facilities and processes, resulting in huge traffic growth.
SEA says: “Both them experienced a growth in import and export flows that, on average, generated in Malpensa in 2016 a year-on-year increase of 35-40 per cent for that kind of products demonstrating that, also in this sector, customers are trusting in our airport and in service provided by its operators.”
Asia and the USA still account for more than 70 per cent of exports from Milan, with the former performing well in 2016 due to a recovery of import flows and more capacity on direct and indirect services.
SEA is looking at South America and Africa, saying: “Other markets in South America or Africa could represent a target for the future, where an improvement in direct connections will be positive for the airport and its catchment area.”
Though Italy is forecasted to only see modest economic growth in the next few years, SEA is confident Malpensa will perform well, and that air cargo will continue to grow more than other modes of transport.
It says: “Furthermore we are seeing a gradual recovery in Malpensa of a significant quantity of air cargo, formerly trucked to other European airports and a constant growth of couriers traffic pushed by e-commerce.”
SEA also says that other countries think Italy is not an easy place to do business due to constraints, inefficiency and bureaucracy, and it must show this is not the case.
“The main challenge for Italy in next years will be to demonstrate that these problems can be overtaken, attracting foreign company to invest in Italy and helping to recover the economic situation.”
Malpensa also has the advantage of being located in the richest region of Italy and is the only Southern European airport among the top 10 European cargo airports.
SEA says it must take advantage of the situation and simplify business with more efficient cross border commerce and for logistics in general.
It says: “Malpensa Airport is doing its best in this direction and, in recent years, air cargo market has demonstrated its trust in us.”