Global insight

Cargo growth declined last year at major hub airports

Cargo volumes through global airports declined at the end of 2018

AIR CARGO volumes passing through the world’s airports – except for those in Africa – fell by 1.5 per cent year-on-year in December, which meant the year-end growth figure for 2018 was only 3.3 per cent, according to figures collected by airport trade association Airports Council International (ACI) World.

The overall trend contrasts starkly with global passenger traffic development in the month, which grew by 4.8 per cent – and which was somewhat below the anticipated year-end result of 5.9 per cent – “continuing a moderation trend which started in the latter half of 2018,” notes ACI.

Airports Council International World analyses data sourced from a sizeable sample of major airports that provide regular reports on month-by-month passenger and freight statistics,writes Thelma Etim.

Angela Gittens, director general of ACI World, insists that the decline in freight needs to be examined in the context of “the increasing geopolitical instability and ongoing protectionism” that is affecting global traffic and trade.

“Industry performance in 2019 remains very uncertain, as trade wars persist, the United Kingdom continues to work to exit the European Union [Brexit] and relationships in key markets in the Middle East and China threaten to cast a pall on the global outlook,” Gittens warns.

Nearly all airports posted declines in air cargo volumes in December

Segmented ACI data shows that nearly all regions posted declines in air cargo volumes in December, bringing year-on-year growth to minus 1.5 per cent in the month.

Whilst Africa bucked the trend, growing by 18.7 per cent in the period, no other region posted robust results, with international tonnage down by 1.7 per cent and domestic traffic down by one per cent, reveals a corporate statement.

In line with the importance of domestic freight in its own market, North America weathered the storm better than Europe and Asia-Pacific, the statement adds. The former declined by 1.2 per cent in December, against reductions of 2.5 per cent for the two other regions.

Latin America/Caribbean and the Middle East declined by 0.8 per cent and 0.9 per cent respectively. Although this marked a continuation of a challenging trend for the Middle East in 2018, it was a major shift for the former, the statement notes.

The news from ACI comes after its sister body Airports Council International (ACI) Europe revealed that air cargo traffic through Europe’s airports fell by 1.4 per cent in November 2018 – the first monthly decrease in three years.

Cargo volumes through global airports declined at the end of 2018

Airfreight figures graphic courtesy of Airports Council International World

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