Hong Kong sees cargo volumes drop as economic conditions hit demand

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The world’s largest cargo airport, Hong Kong International, registered a double-digit percentage volume decline last year as economic conditions and Covid restrictions took their toll.

In total, the airport handled 4.2m tonnes of cargo in 2022 – a decline of 16.4% compared with a year earlier.

The Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) said that cargo volumes continued to be impacted by global economic uncertainties, geopolitical tensions and disruptions to global supply chains. 

Import and export cargos decreased by 33% and 26% year-on-year respectively, compared to the same month last year.

“Southeast Asia, North America, and Europe recorded a similar significant decrease in terms of cargo volume in the month,” HKIAA said.

Volumes were also affected by Covid restrictions, which limited passenger operations and therefore bellyhold volumes.

Fred Lam, chief executive, AAHK, said, “The airport endured another challenging year in 2022 as the impact of the pandemic continued.

“Nevertheless, we saw the light at the end of the tunnel when the HKSAR Government relaxed travel restrictions and quarantine requirements for inbound travellers in the second half of the year.

“Passenger traffic at HKIA started to pick up in the last quarter of 2022.”

Crew restrictions also affected the ability of airlines to operate freighter flights in the early part of the year.

Cathay Pacific, for example, implemented “substantial” cuts to its freighter operations in the first quarter of the year.

Hong Kong International was not the only major airport to report a decline in volumes for last year – Frankfurt registered a 13.3% fall.

Cathay Pacific outlines “substantial” freighter flight cuts in Q1

Frankfurt the latest European airport to register a cargo decline in 2022

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Damian Brett

Damian Brett
I have been writing about the freight and logistics industry since 2007 when I joined International Freighting Weekly to cover the shipping sector.After a stint in PR, I have gone on to work for Containerisation International and Lloyds List - where I was editor of container shipping - before joining Air Cargo News in 2015.Contact me on [email protected]