Cargo demand drops in Hong Kong and Europe

By Damian Brett

Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA)

Statistics released by airports over the last couple of days have revealed the extent of air cargo demand declines, with Hong Kong reporting a double-digit percentage drop off compared with a year ago.

Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) — the world’s largest air cargo hub — said that in March freight throughput dropped 12.4% to 378,000 tonnes compared to the same month last year.

Amongst the key trading regions, traffic to and from Southeast Asia and Europe decreased most significantly in March.

The decline in cargo throughput was mainly attributed to 42% decrease in transhipments. Exports was stable while imports grew slightly by 1% year on year.

Over the first quarter, cargo throughput fell 10.9% to 988,000 tonnes compared to the same period last year.

Meanwhile, Europe’s largest air cargo hub Frankfurt Airport Cargo throughput (comprising airfreight and airmail) slipped by 17.4% percent in March to 167,279 metric tons.

And at Belgium airport Brussels there was a 14.6% year-on-year decline in March to 52,520 tons of cargo (including trucked).

“The drop in demand is the consequence of many companies in Belgium and Europe ceasing their operations due to the corona crisis,” the airport said in a statement.

“But there is also a considerable decline in capacity, largely due to a reduction in belly capacity — cargo transport on passenger flights — caused by the cancellation of long-haul flights.

“There was also a considerable discrepancy between cargo flights at the beginning of the month, when the impact was still rather limited, and the end of the month.

“The coming weeks and months promise to fluctuate considerably. With the reduction in belly capacity, there is an increased demand for full-cargo capacity, but that cannot always be met.”

There are also routes that have been changed, but new airlines have also started operations at Brussels Airport: Silk Airways, Amerijet and Suparna.

Earlier this week, Heathrow Airport reported that its cargo volumes had dropped by 32.5% year on year in March to 100,857 tonnes.

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