No need to look west to find the right gateway

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Miami International Airport

The East Coast of the USA and Canada is a crucial cargo trade lane linking some of the biggest cities in North America to European, Asian and South American economic hubs, writes David Craik.

Miami International Airport (MIA) is one example, with most recent figures revealing that it recorded four per cent growth in freight tonnage through March compared to the same time last year.

International freight traffic rose 1.8 per cent to 491,264 tonnes and domestic freight jumped 19.1 per cent to 84,180 tonnes, for a combined 575,444 tonnes during the month.

It builds on an impressive 2017 when it recorded its best ever year for freight tonnage with 2.24 million tonnes, up by three per cent over 2016. Helping its figures have been new carriers such as Etihad with its weekly freighter flights between Miami, Amsterdam and Abu Dhabi, and TACA Peru with weekly freighter flights to and from South America.

MIA also points to recent initiatives such as designating the airport land parcel as a Foreign Trade Zone and an ocean to air perishables trans-shipment programme for its growth.

Up in Canada, Halifax Stanfield airport is marketing itself as the Gateway to Canada and it appears to be paying off. Last year it recorded record cargo volumes of 34,051 tonnes, up 2.2 per cent on 2016. It states it will continue to use “our enviable position as the closest continental airport in North America to Europe to our advantage”.

It vowed to continue to market the airport to airlines looking to implement new non-stop flights to and from Europe with feed from services in Canada and the US.

“With demand for new nonstop cargo air services expected to increase we will continue to invest in the airport with further enhancements to the airfield, terminal building and security infrastructure,” it adds.

European airlines are certainly targeting the East Coast for further growth. IAG Cargo is looking to Nashville to take advantage of its car industry and the movement of spare parts. Virgin Atlantic Cargo has also launched a new route between Belfast and Orlando moving spare parts, machinery and general cargo.

HAE Group, a GSA provider out of the UK’s East Midlands Airport, also sees huge potential. It already has a substantial salesforce on the US East Coast with offices in New York JFK, Atlanta, Washington Dulles (IAD) and MIA.

“Our initial development surrounded JFK, but we have quickly spread south arising from GSA contracts and our project business,” explains HAE Group sales manager South East, Angela Howard.

“Swiss Cargo is one valuable contract in Georgia, Tennessee, the Carolinas’ and Louisiana. Other important contracts include Strategic Air, Oman Air, Hainan Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines. These carriers give us access to online products around JFK, Boston, IAD and MIA. Hainan continues to expand initially Boston to Shanghai Pudong and Beijing and most recently with JFK to Chengdu.”

HAE added that each region drives different cargo demand with JKF being strong to China and Africa and Boston continuing to see big volumes to China based on perishables. The South East is more geared to Europe and Indian markets with the Middle East also in growth.

“China seems to be driven by greater domestic economic demand and Africa continues to see increased economic development with rising investment in infrastructure,” explains HAE Group VP Americas Charlie Storcks.

“Some of this growth is also a result of increased oil prices and the investment that goes with this. This is visible through the increase demand for Oman Air products. The US Government business benefited from increased overseas activities and funding.”

HAE added that airlines are looking to create long term, value creating partnerships in the East Coast. “Competition still remains aggressive, but rates seem to be going in the right direction,” says Storcks.

The group forecasts continued strength in its project business including charters and part-charters particularly into developing regions under served by scheduled commercial lift.