The Airports Council International (ACI) forecasts in its latest edition of the World Airport Traffic Report that air cargo volumes will rise at rates averaging 7.4 per cent worldwide for the rest of the year and into 2018.
ACI says over a two-year period, this growth will add up to an estimated 16.9 million additional tonnes by December 2018, of which almost 50 per cent will be handled by the Asia-Pacific region, increasing the region’s total market share to just above 39 per cent.
The association notes notwithstanding, the industry must be “cognizant of the fact that there are several impediments that could curtail the continued rise in demand”.
Specifically, it explains these are related to geo-political unrest, terrorism and threats to security in certain parts of the world. Physical capacity considerations and potential bottlenecks in air transport infrastructure also pose challenges in accommodating future air transport demand.
Finally, protectionist policies that retreat from further economic integration and air transport liberalization could have adverse contractionary effect on the air transport industry.
ACI World director general, Angela Gittens (pictured above) says: “In this new era of geopolitical strife and terror, coupled with the wave of protectionist rhetoric that has swept many major economies, clear downside risks have revealed themselves as we end 2017 and approach 2018.
“Even with the prevailing strength in consumer confidence across major economies and relatively sound economic fundamentals as our backdrop, cautious optimism should be the prevailing sentiment in our industry.”
In the World Airport Traffic Report, the association also says air cargo markets experienced a revival in the second half of 2016 to surpass 110 million tonnes by the end of the year and achieving growth of four per cent.
This it says was despite the backdrop of economic uncertainty regarding trade policies in the US and the UK, two of the world’s largest aviation markets, business confidence has persevered into 2017.
ACI says international trade continued to make gains on the cyclical recovery in the global economy, which translated into growth in airfreight volumes. Inventory build-ups, augmented export orders and a strengthening of consumer demand reflected in increased online purchases are important drivers in the near-term.
On a year-to-date basis, air freight volumes (excluding mail), point to estimates of an astounding increase of over eight per cent in volumes for the first half of 2017.
Hong Kong and Memphis took the first and second ranks for the busiest air cargo airports in the world with 4.6 and 4.3 million tonnes in 2016.
Airports in the Asia-Pacific region handled the largest amount during 2016: Asia-Pacific (43.4 million tonnes, up 5.4 per cent over 2015), North America (30.8 million tonnes, up 2.4 per cent), Europe (20.1 million tonnes, up five per cent), Middle East (8.8 million tonnes, up 2.7 per cent), Latin America-Caribbean (5.1 million tonnes, up 0.9 per cent) and Africa (2.1 million tonnes, up 1.3 per cent).
The world’s fastest-growing airports handling over 250,000 tonnes in 2016 were Moscow Sheremetyevo (256,000 tonnes, up 28.8 per cent over 2015), Doha (1.76 million tonnes, up 20.8 per cent), Hanoi (566,000 tonnes, up 18.2 per cent).
The World Airport Traffic Report covers more than 2,400 airports in 175 countries across the globe.