Hong Kong still busiest air cargo hub as virus depletes H1 volume

In the first six months, total cargo volumes handled by airports dropped 12.4 percent compared to the same period in 2019.

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Hong Kong saw its cargo volume drop 10.6 percent in H1 compared to the first half of last year, ACI World data revealed. (Courtesy of DynamicWang/Unsplash)

Hong Kong International Airport retained its position as the world’s busiest air cargo hub, despite seeing cargo volume drop 10.6 percent compared to the first half of last year, data from Airports Council International (ACI World) revealed. 

The top three spots showed no change from 2018, as Memphis (MEM; home hub of FedEx) and Shanghai (PVG) followed Hong Kong (HKG) to take the second and third spots, respectively. Louisville (SDF; hub for UPS) moved up three places to no. 4, whilst Incheon (ICN), Anchorage (ANC) and Dubai (DBX) dropped one place each to make up the fifth to seventh spots, respectively. Doha (DOH)base for Qatar Airways Cargo, jumped three places to no. 8 in the period, whilst Taipei (TPE) climbed one place to no. 9 and Tokyo (NRT) dropped one place to no. 10. 

Amongst the top 10, Dubai and Hong Kong absorbed the most notable airfreight reductions at 26.7 percent and 10.2 percent, respectively, in the first half.

From a regional view, airports in Africa (-22.4 percent), Latin America-Caribbean (22.1 percent) and the Middle East (21.8 percent) suffered the biggest drops in cargo throughput in the first six months of this year, whilst Asia Pacific, Europe and North America saw volumes slip 15.6 percent, 14.2 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively.

In the first six months, total cargo volumes handled by airports dropped 12.4 percent compared to the same period in 2019, whilst domestic and international freight volumes slid 8.4 percent and 13.9 percent, respectively. 

Overall aircraft movements slumped 41.6 percent in the period no thanks to global lockdowns, travel bans and blanked quarantine measures, which inevitably saw passenger traffic (along with belly cargo) decrease 58.4 percent. 

“From a period of sustained global growth in 2019, the aviation industry now faces the worst crisis we have ever confronted with huge declines in passenger traffic and revenues due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” ACI World’s director general Luis Felipe de Oliveira, pointed out. 

In 2019, the world’s airports processed 119.9 million metric tonnes of cargo, with advanced economies holding the largest proportion (60.8 percent) of global cargo traffic handling at 73 million metric tonnes. 

Last year, Asia Pacific’s airports handled the largest amount of global air cargo at 47 million tonnes. 

Read ACI World’s announcement here.

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