HONG KONG: Surprise February cargo declines in HK

Cargo volumes at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) suffered an unexpected decline in February with throughput dropping 5.9 per cent to 242,000 tonnes. These declines came after a buoyant 2010, which produced record cargo results for the airport, Hactl and flag carrier Cathay Pacific with 4.1 million tonnes of cargo passing through the airport, up […]


Cargo volumes at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) suffered an unexpected decline in February with throughput dropping 5.9 per cent to 242,000 tonnes. These declines came after a buoyant 2010, which produced record cargo results for the airport, Hactl and flag carrier Cathay Pacific with 4.1 million tonnes of cargo passing through the airport, up 23.4 per cent over the previous year. Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Ltd (Hactl), which handles nearly 80 per cent of the airport’s volume, reported a 9.1 per cent drop for February. Import volume decreased 3.4 per cent versus February 2010, while export tonnage slumped 18.2 per cent. Hactl’s transhipment volume was up 5.4 per cent. Hactl saw a growth of 24.8 per cent in 2010 over the previous period, generating a record 2.89 million tonnes, surpassing the previous record of 2.63 million tonnes achieved in 2007. Cathay Pacific and sister airline Dragonair carried 1.8 million tonnes in 2010, 18.1 per cent more than in 2009. But that momentum quickly dissipated in February with Cathay Pacific and Dragonair carrying 116,998 tonnes of cargo in the month, a drop of 2.3 per cent compared to the same month last year, while the cargo and mail load factor was down 9.5 percentage points to 67.6 per cent. Capacity, measured in available cargo/mail tonne kilometres, was up by 17.8 per cent, while cargo and mail tonne kilometres flown were up by 3.3 per cent. “Demand out of the key Hong Kong and China markets was generally quite weak during and immediately after the Chinese New Year holidays in early February, with a number of factories in the mainland staying closed for a longer period than usual,” said James Woodrow, general manager of cargo sales and marketing at Cathay. “We saw some pick-up later in the month though there was no significant month-end rush. We managed our capacity in line with demand, cancelling a number of freighter services on long-haul trunk routes.”