Putzger Perspective: Air cargo’s Mexican wave

Source: Lufthansa Cargo

In May, Lufthansa Cargo announced plans to expand its footprint in Mexico the following month with the addition of Monterrey to its network, serving the airport once a week with a Boeing 777 freighter in tandem with Felipe Angeles airport (AIFA), the designated freighter gateway for the nation’s capital.

Other carriers are also upping their presence in Mexico. Air Canada signalled at the end of April that it was going to add a fourth weekly freighter run to AIFA (although this may be derailed by the subsequent announcement to scrap orders for two B767 conversions into freighters).

China Southern resumed passenger flights between Shenzhen and Mexico City, but the 14,147 km stage length severely limits cargo capacity, which is bound to fall short of demand.

Chinese companies have scrambled to open production facilities in Mexico in response to the nearshoring wave that has boosted Mexico-US flows which have propelled Laredo past the Port of Los Angeles to claim the crown of top gateway for US imports.

Logistics firms have been building up capacity in Monterrey as well as Guadalajara to manage rising cross-border flows, and airfreight is growing in their wake.

Guadalajara is poised to accommodate more flights with the opening of a second runway that is boosting the airport’s operational capacity from 41 to 60-61 movements per hour. Last year the airport handled 170,000 tons of cargo.

The nearshoring trend aside, a second driver for the growing attention to up-and-coming Mexican airports is the worsening situation at the capital’s primary gateway, Mexico City International Airport (AICM).

Primarily a result of the governmental decree ending freighter flights there last year, its cargo throughput slumped 61% in the first quarter to 57,235 tons. Correspondingly, AIFA’s throughput soared to 103,932 tons.

AICM’s cargo volume will remain depressed. The civil aviation authority declared the airport saturated last August and ordered aircraft movements there to be reduced from 52 to 43 per hour. This limitation, which came into effect in January, is expected to remain in place for most of this year.

Mexico’s international air cargo tally was up 5.4% year on year in the first quarter to 206,792 tons, whereas domestic volume slipped 3% to 90,679 tons.

With international traffic expected to rise (not to mention disruptions at the US border triggering spikes in charters), more flights to up-and-coming Mexican airports are on the cards.

Putzger perspective: Cargo demand flies but can aviation keep up?

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