ACI: 16 of the top 20 hubs see freight declines in February

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Hong Kong International Airport aerial shot

The Airports Council International (ACI) says airfreight volumes at airports across the globe were down by 4.1 per cent in February – due to the timing of Chinese New Year and the disruption of the US West Coast sea ports a year ago.

ACI says air cargo reveals an “entirely different story” to the growing passenger market compared to the previous year, with international freight experiencing a greater decline than domestic freight (down 5.5 per cent and 0.8 per cent respectively).

The association says while there is some “cause for concern”, much of the decline is attributed to the timing of the Chinese New Year (19 February in 2015 versus 8 February in 2016; this difference of 11 days affects global imports and exports).

As a result, Hong Kong, Shanghai-Pudong, Seoul-Incheon, Tokyo-Narita and Taipei reported traffic losses of 14.9 per cent, 13.1 per cent, 9.4 per cent, 16 per cent and 18.2 per cent respectively.

However, some major freight hubs remained in positive territory, including Dubai (+2.9 per cent), Paris-Charles de Gaulle (+9.9 per cent), Doha (+20.8 per cent) and London Heathrow (+2.7 per cent).

Based on the global sample of airports, 16 of the top 20 airports in terms of freight volume all experienced year-over-year declines for the month of February, including Memphis and Louisville, the two major freight hubs in the US and Miami; Frankfurt; Singapore; Los Angeles; and others.

ACI concludes: “The picture is thus two-sided: As all major airfreight markets in East Asia experienced declines in traffic volumes, the major air freight markets in Europe remained flat or grew only marginally.

“At the regional level, Asia-Pacific and North America are the only regions with significant and comparable rates in air freight declines (minus 8.1 per cent and minus 7.3 per cent), testifying to the pattern of international trade and economic interdependence of the two regions.

At the same time, the short term distortionary boost to freight volumes a year ago during the West Coast Sea port crisis has exacerbated the decline in February.”