Up and down in airport cargo

THE global slump in demand for airfreight is seeing a varied mix of winning and losing airports.

Freight transport at Ostend Airport, Belgium, fell 23.9 per cent in 2008, compared to 2007. However, the figures are slightly skewed as repair work on parts of the airport prevented freighters from landing at the airport for a month.

Less severe but worrying nonetheless, Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Limited (Hactl) handled 167,845 and 593,082 tonnes for December and the fourth quarter respectively, down 29.7 per cent and 19.4 per cent, compared with the same periods in 2007. This was a year-on-year reduction of 3.8 per cent.

“The global economic performance remains bleak. With the toxic combination of falling trading demand and the possible modal shift from air-to-ocean taking place, the whole air cargo industry is undergoing an extremely challenging ice age,” said Lilian Chan, Hactl’s general manager of marketing and customer service.

Amsterdam airport (right) operator, the Schiphol Group, has reported a drop in cargo traffic of 1.4 per cent to a total of 1.59 million tonnes. The group predicts further drops for 2009.

Meanwhile, Iceland’s Keflavík Airport, which has just assumed combined operation of the Keflavík Airport Authority and the Leif Ericsson Air Terminal, has been seeing a steady growth despite the decline in demand.

In addition, Düsseldorf airport is attracting more business. Ghana International Airlines started a B757 service in November last year, which will become daily very shortly and from summer, Icelandair will commence a B757 service from Reykjavik to Düsseldorf daily, whilst Mahan Air is already operating four flights per week with an A310 and will expand to daily frequencies shortly.

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