Airport figures the latest to point to weak start to the year for airfreight

14 / 04 / 2016

Airports Council International (ACI) traffic data for February is the latest information to point towards a difficult start to the year, although the organisation admits figures for the month were skewed by the timing of the Chinese New Year.

ACI figures for February show that total airfreight traffic at airports declined by 4.1% year on year in February, with international traffic sliding by 5.1% and domestic freight down 0.8%.

“While there is some cause for concern, much of the decline is attributed to the timing of the Chinese New Year,” the organisation said.

As a result, Hong Kong (HKG), Shanghai-Pudong (PVG), Seoul-Incheon (ICN), Tokyo-Narita (NRT) and Taipei (TPE) reported traffic losses of 14.9%, 13.1%, 9.4%, 16% and 18.2% respectively.

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

In total, 16 of the top 20 airports in terms of freight volume all experienced year-over-year declines for the month of February, including Memphis (MEM) and Louisville (SDF), the two major freight hubs in the US; Miami (MIA); Frankfurt (FRA); Singapore (SIN); Los Angeles (LAX); and others.

“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,” ACI said.

“At the regional level, Asia-Pacific and North America are the only regions with significant and comparable rates in air freight declines (-8.1% and -7.3%), 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.”

A clearer picture of how the market can be garnered by looking at figures for the first two months of the year combined.

This shows a total market decline of 1.3% year on year − roughly in line with IATA figures − with international traffic down by 2.3% and domestic traffic jumping by 0.9%.