European airports’ cargo performance hits seven-year low

In June, European airports registered the largest percentage decline in cargo traffic of the past seven years.

Airports Council International (ACI) Europe figures show that cargo traffic at European hubs declined by 7.1% in June, while over the first six months of the year there was a 3.5% decline.

Both the European Union (EU) and non-EU markets felt the first-half decline, with airports in the EU market registering a 3.7% drop and non-EU airports slipping by 1.9%.

Amongst the top 10 European airports for freight traffic, only two posted positive results in the first half: Liège at 6.5% and Istanbul up 0.4%.

ACI Europe director general Olivier Jankovec said: “The slump in freight traffic is where it really bites at the moment and it is not getting any better, with June registering a drop of 7.1% – the worst monthly performance in more than seven years.

“This does not bode well for the months ahead, especially as passenger traffic usually does not remain totally isolated from trends in freight traffic.”

Looking at individual airport performance in the first half, the largest cargo hub in Europe, Frankfurt, saw cargo demand decrease by 2.5% year on year to just over 1m tonnes; at Paris CDG there was a drop of 1.9% to 946,129 tonnes and Heathrow was down 4.2% to 805,953 tonnes.

The second quarter was particularly tough for the airports, as cargo demand was down 3.6% at Frankfurt, 3.2% in Paris CDG and 6.3% at Heathrow.

Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) – the world’s largest airfreight hub – also had a tough first half of the year, as its cargo volumes declined by 6.7% year on year to 2.3m tonnes.

Weak demand in all three cargo categories – imports, exports and transhipments – was observed during the period, amid the uncertain global economic situation.

In June, cargo throughput at the Hong Kong hub was down 8.6% to 387,000 tonnes.

“The decrease in throughput in June was attributed to weaker performance in transhipments and imports, which dropped by 13% and 11%, respectively,” HKIA said.

“Amongst the key trading regions, cargo throughput to Southeast Asia and Europe decreased most significantly.”

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