AIRFREIGHT throughput at Europe’s airports experienced a sharp downwards trajectory in 2018, with shipment volumes growing by only 1.8 per cent in comparison with 2017’s 8.4 per cent improvement, European airport trade association ACI Europe reveals.

The slump primarily affected European Union member airports – up just 1.1 per cent, whilst freight at non-EU venues rose by 5.6 per cent. The scenario worsened in November with cargo falling by 1.4 per cent and then dropping by 2.2 per cent in December, the association points out, writes Thelma Etim.

Among the top 10 European airports, only the following reported freight growth: Liège was up 21.6 per cent in eighth position, Istanbul-Atatürk up by 9.6 per cent in fifth position, Cologne-Bonn up 2.7 per cent in ninth position and Brussels up 3.7 per cent in 10th place.

Airfreight traffic slides at European airports in 2018

Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI Europe

The poor air cargo figures contrast significantly with passenger traffic across the European airport network last year, which grew by 6.1 per cent, bringing the total number of passengers using Europe’s airports to a new record of 2.34 billion.

Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI Europe, notes that the trend of decreasing freight traffic is hard to ignore. “It reflects weakening economic data and contraction forces at play, not just in Europe but around the world,” he observes.

“These [trends] will ultimately translate into lower passenger demand. Add to that volatile oil prices, labour cost pressures and more consolidation, and these should lead airlines to be more cautious with their capacity expansion, so pressures on passenger traffic are likely to come both from the demand and supply sides in 2019,” Jankovec forecasts.

“With less than 60 days left before the UK exits the European Union, Brexit remains the top immediate risk,” he adds.

“However, the latest ‘no-deal’ contingency measures from the EU no longer provide for a capacity freeze on EU27-UK air routes for UK airlines. This will very much help mitigate the impact and protect air connectivity.”

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