Changi on five year cargo high led by pharma and perishables

The first nine months of 2016 have seen Singapore’s  Changi Airport register its best cargo performance in the last five years on the back of growth in perishables and pharmaceutical demand.
Changi Airport Group assistant vice president, cargo and logistics development division Phau Hui Hoon said that between January and September demand at the airport has increased by 5.5% year on year to 1.44m tonnes.
The improvement is on the back of growth in import and transhipment volumes and, segment wise, perishables and pharmaceuticals.
Phau said that pharmaceutical traffic increased by 19% year on year over the first nine months while perishables grew by 11%.
The improvement in pharma traffic is down to a greater awareness about the needs of pharma shippers and also because the airport has been focusing on the sector.
“We have been working with our partners to see how we can raise our local pharma handling standards,” said Phau.
“For example, earlier this year we brought together a community of airport partners to go through the IATA CEIV pharma certification and our ground handlers have been investing in cold chain facilities.”
She welcomed the CEIV certification because it brings a standard to the industry.
Singapore ground handler SATS was actually the first facility in the world to get the CEIV certification.
Changi’s other ground handler, dnata, which opened its own cold chain facility in 2013, is also going through the certification process as part of the community, along with Singapore Airlines Cargo and four freight forwarders.
Changi has also joined the Pharma.Aero organisation that aims to improve pharma handling by bringing together all elements of the supply chain – including shippers – to develop best practices and share market knowledge and expertise.
“Pharma.Aero gives us the opportunity to work together with other like-minded airport communities to exchange best practices and also to explore the development of new solutions that can meet pharma shippers requirements,” Phau said.
Another growing stream of traffic, said Phau, is e-commerce and SATS is investing in a new e-commerce hub to add further to the parcel handling capability at Changi.
Expected to be operational by the end of the year, SATS will be the first ground handler in the world to own such an airside facility, with automated processes for single scanning and sorting to save cargo processing time and increase efficiency.
One of Singapore’s major selling points is its position at the centre of several trade lanes, making it ideal for transhipment.
However, more and more airports are promoting themselves as transhipment hubs these days so how will Changi stay ahead of the competition?
“I believe every airport has its own competitive advantage. In the case of Changi, I think we are located in a very strategic location at the cross roads of major trade lanes in the region.
“For Instance, we are well connected to fast growing countries like China and India. We are connected to more than 30 cities in China and 14 cities in India, much better than any other Southeast Asian country.
“And intra-Asia traffic is one of the bright spots, so we are in a good position based on the connectivity to be the transhipment hub.”
Phau added that the airport also offers Changi Airfreight Centre, which is a 24/7 free trade zone with a total capacity of 3m tonnes, and it is in the process of adding extra aircraft stands.
While the amount of cargo it processes on freighter aircraft has come down in recent year, in line with the growth of passenger services, the airport has welcomed five new freighter operators over the last 12 months. Today around a third of traffic is handled by freighters.
AirBridgeCargo Airlines (ABC) operating B747-8Fs, My Indo Airlines with Boeing 737Fs, Neptune Air with B737Fs, K-Mile Air with B737Fs and Silk Way West Airlines’ B747-8Fs.
The airport has also been offering freighter operators rebates on landing fees and Phau said early next year Changi will consider whether to extend this for another 12 months, depending on market conditions.
“We know that the industry may be going through some difficult times and the airport has stepped in to help our cargo partners.
“Earlier this year we announced a series of incentive and support measures for our airlines so freighter carriers are still benefiting from across the board landing rebates of 30%.”
Finally, to support the long-term growth of Singapore’s cargo and logistics sectors, dedicated facilities for airfreight and air express services will be developed as part of Changi East’s development.
Projected to be ready by the late-2020s, the Changi East project involves the development of a 1,080 hectare site with a new mega terminal, Terminal 5, the extension of the third runway for civilian use, as well as industrial facilities, related infrastructure and transport links.