Global insight

Airfreight traffic slides at European airports in 2018

Air cargo traffic drops in face of potential EU chaos

AIR cargo traffic through Europe’s airports fell by 1.4 per cent in November 2018 – the first monthly decrease in three years, reveals the European airport trade association Airports Council International (ACI) Europe.

The sharp decline in airfreight volumes is in stark contrast to Europe’s passenger traffic, which grew by an impressive 6.4 per cent in the month, writes Thelma Etim

Commenting on the latest EU airport traffic results, Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI Europe, says the figures show that, on the passenger side, demand for air transport “keeps defying” an increasingly challenging geopolitical and economic environment.

Air cargo traffic drops in face of potential EU chaos

Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI Europe

“But the party could be ending soon,” he warns. “We are facing a Eurozone close to stagnation, with business confidence now at a four-year low, coupled with global growth losing momentum in a synchronised way and a slowdown in trade.”

While all of this is currently only taking its toll on freight volumes, there is no doubt that passenger demand levels “are going to feel the effects at some point,” he asserts.

At the same time, Jankovec insists that, for EU airports, “a Brexit no-deal [currently] provides the most immediate risk.”

As British members of parliament vote on whether or not to support the UK prime minister Theresa May’s proposed March 29 EU withdrawal deal, there are a number of aviation issues to be considered. “We are faced with the prospect of a capacity freeze on all UK-EU27 [27 European Union countries involved in Brexit negotiations] air routes, the modalities of which still need to be defined,” the director general states.

“If confirmed, UK airports would of course be the hardest hit, but many airports across the EU27 would also suffer – especially in Ireland and Spain, as well as smaller regional airports elsewhere that depend on UK traffic.”

His observations follow a stark warning from Rafael Schvartzman, regional vice-president, Europe at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) about post-Brexit, no-deal air transport operations. “With no agreement, we expect significant disruption,” he said.

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