The biggest cargo handlers at the two busiest cargo airports in China have now reported their April results, and the news is encouraging. Relatively few of the big cargo carriers have reported their April results, but the trend among those that have is of continuing improvement — not spectacular, but at least movement in the right direction.
Hong Kong International’s Hactl – the world’s busiest cargo terminal – and Shanghai Pudong’s Pactl reported tonnage growth of 3.8% and 7.1%, respectively (details below). While this growth is welcome, and will undoubtedly be celebrated by many as a sign of a turnaround in the air freight business, we point out that Hactl’s year-to-date tonnage is still below the previous high point in 2010, and only 4.7% above the volume it handled in the first four months of 2008 – five years ago. So hold off on popping the Champagne corks for a few more months.
- Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals (Hactl) reported its April handle up 3.8% y-o-y to 236,000 tonnes. Export volume was up 4.2% to 127,000 tonnes, import volume was up 1.3% to 53,000 tonnes, and transshipment volume (which now exceeds imports), was up 5.2% to 56,000 tonnes. These gains come despite the fact that Cathay Pacific, Hactl’s biggest customer, has begun handling some of its own cargo (and that of subsidiary carrier Dragonair) in the new facility it opened in late February. At this early stage, Cathay has not moved much of its cargo away from Hactl, but as we move further into 2013, the impact on Hactl’s tonnage will become significant. For the first four months of 2013 Hactl’s handle was up 2.1% to 880,000 tonnes. We point out that while this growth is welcome, and will undoubtedly be pointed to as a sign of a turnaround in the air freight business, it is in fact slightly below the previous high point in 2010, and only 4.7% above the volume Hactl handled in the first four months of 2008 – five years ago.
- Shanghai Pudong International Airport Cargo Terminals Co. Ltd (Pactl, the biggest cargo handler at PVG) reported its April handle up 7.1% y-o-y to 108,000 tonnes. International volume was up 6.0% to 100,000 tonnes, while the much smaller domestic volume was jumped 23.9% to 8,000 tonnes (most of Shanghai’s domestic cargo moves through nearby Hongqiao Airport). For the first four months of 2013, Pactl’s handle was up 2.5% to 379,000 tonnes.