Air freight volumes showed modest growth for the month of June at 2.1 per cent year-on-year, with international freight experiencing weakness as volumes inched up by only 0.9 per cent, whereas domestic freight traffic increased by 4.8 per cent, according to the Airports Council International (ACI).
Although the rate of growth in air freight markets has slowed compared to 2014, air freight has grown by 3.4 per cent for the first half of 2015 as compared to the same period the previous year, ACI noted. Growth has become more subdued since global demand for foreign goods and commodities has weakened compared to 2014. Business confidence was in limbo for the first half of 2015 and this is reflected in a weakening of orders by air and the build-up of inventories, it added.
“While the prospect of future global economic growth is cause for optimism, there are two forces at play which are pushing the pendulum in opposite directions. As key regional economies such as North America get back on course, a cyclical slowdown in emerging markets is dampening the potential for significant advances in the global air freight market. Thus, future growth prospects in the latter half of 2015 will remain limited,” ACI said in a statement.
A weakening of international trade activity has “enfeebled the Asia-Pacific air freight market in the first half of 2016,” according to ACI. Overall growth in volumes has slowed to three per cent on a year-to-date basis with cross-border shipment of goods showing the weakest growth.
International freight volumes, which make up the greatest proportion of freight traffic in the region, grew by only 2.7 per cent for the first six months of 2015, whereas domestic freight traffic grew by 3.8 per cent. The top global air freight hub, Hong Kong (HKG), had an increase of only 0.6 per cent in traffic for the first half of 2015. Shanghai (PVG) and Incheon (ICN), the region’s second and third busiest air freight hubs, had year-on-year increases of 5.0 and 1.5 per cent respectively.
With ongoing capacity expansion in the Middle East, airports and airlines have capitalised on the strategic locations of major freight hubs in the region both for long-haul and short-haul operations, ACI said.
The Middle East experienced the greatest increase in accumulated volumes as compared to other regions at 8.6 per cent year-on-year from January to June 2015. Dubai (DXB) the region’s largest freight hub, grew by 2.8 per cent over the same period. While DXB occupies a large share of air freight traffic in the Middle East region, other airports have significantly increased volumes in the first half of 2015. Both Doha (DOH) and Dubai World Central (DWC), the second and third ranked airports, grew by 11.4 and 57.6 per cent respectively.
With capacity for 12 million tonnes of air freight, DWC is now set to be the region’s future air cargo hub. The new airport has experienced significant growth following the commencement of operations.
Despite the signs of rising business confidence, the shadow of uncertainty regarding the Greek debt crisis and its potential contagion effects has left European air freight volumes in a sluggish state in the first half of 2015, according to ACI.
Volumes inched up by 0.5 per cent during the period. The ongoing geopolitical concerns in Eastern Europe may also represent a potential obstacle on the horizon for the European air freight market. The region’s three major air freight hubs, Frankfurt (FRA), Paris (CDG) and Amsterdam (AMS), experienced declines of 2.3, 4.7 and 2.1 per cent respectively in the first half of 2015.
After the Middle East, North America posted the highest growth at 4.8 per cent year-on-year in the first half of 2015. The higher growth in North America continues to coincide with an American rebound and the strong economic fundamentals helped propel the air freight market.
For a mature market, the relatively high level of growth in air freight volumes represents a banner year, at least with respect to the first half of 2015. Growth is exceeding 2013 levels. Although Memphis (MEM), home of FedEx, increased by only 0.6 per cent, other airports in the region achieved significant strides in year-on-year increases in volumes.
With the investment in the airport’s Northeast Cargo Center, the biggest gains were achieved by Chicago (ORD) with volumes moving up by 20.5 per cent in the first half of 2015.
The African air freight market grew by 7.4 per cent in the first half of 2015. While results are mixed across the continent, Johannesburg (JNB), a leading air freight hub, has bounced back after a bleak 2014 with respect to growth in volumes, according to ACI. Accumulated freight volumes from June to January 2015 grew by 11.7 per cent as compared to the same period in the previous year. Cairo (CAI), the continent’s busiest air cargo hub, and JNB represent over 30 per cent of the continent’s air freight traffic.
With weakness in the Brazilian and Argentinian economies, growth in freight volumes in Latin-America-Caribbean has remained weak. The region saw a modest rise in freight traffic of one per cent year-on-year over the first two quarters of 2015.
Growth patterns continue to be mixed for Latin America-Caribbean as a whole. While major Brazilian airports such as Sao Paulo-Guarulhos (GRU) and Campinas (VCP) — which occupy a large share of the region’s freight volumes — experienced a decline of 1.2 and 11.4 per cent respectively in air freight volumes, other airports within the region have achieved significant advances.
Bogota (BOG), Colombia’s main airport and the region’s leading air freight hub, experienced a gain of six per cent in air freight traffic in the first half of 2015. Mexico City (MEX) saw a double-digit rise of 15.6 per cent in freight volumes fuelled by a burgeoning international freight market.