Cargo growth continues in Asia

Yesterday we reported strong cargo growth at Etihad Airways and American Airlines. Today, two of Asia’s biggest cargo handlers also reported exceptionally strong growth in June and for the first half of 2014. So, while the big European carriers appear to be struggling, it is beginning to look as though worldwide cargo traffic will continue show growth in June. Perhaps not quite as strong as the growth in the last two months, but still solid.

Shanghai Pudong International Airport Cargo Terminals Co. Ltd (Pactl, the biggest cargo handler at PVG) reported its June handle up 12.4% to 108,000 tonnes. This follows a 13.9% jump in April and a 13.4%, increase in May, continuing the trend of strong growth seen in the first quarter of this year. For June, Pactl’s international volume was up 13.4% to 101,000 tonnes, while the much smaller domestic volume was down 1.8% to 7,000 tonnes (most of Shanghai’s domestic cargo moves through nearby Hongqiao Airport). For the first half of 2014, Pactl’s handle was up 13.8% to 604,000 tonnes.

Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals (Hactl) reported its first-half handle, adjusted for the loss of Cathay Pacific’s business last year, up 11.5% y‑o‑y to 869,000 tonnes. The growth was led by a 34.2% jump in transshipment volume to 65,000 tonnes, while import volume was up 13.6% to 243,000 tonnes and export volume rose 8.8% to 490,000. Hactl now also reports “Other” volume (including mail, express, and on-board courier shipments), which turns out to be fairly significant – 71,000 tonnes in the first half, up 6.5% over 1H13.

Discussing the first-half results, Hactl CEO Mark Whitehead said: “When we parted company with Cathay Pacific in 2013, we expected a long uphill struggle to replace this significant element of our business. In reality, we have quickly made up a substantial proportion of the traffic through new account wins, and organic growth among our 100 airline clients.”

Regarding the big jump in transshipment volumes, Mr. Whitehead added: “The growth in our transshipment traffic – while currently still the smallest part of our business – is very interesting, as it reflects the continuing development of Hong Kong as the preferred regional transshipment hub.”

Without the adjustment, Hactl’s handle would have been down 34.5%, but despite the loss of Cathay’s business, Hactl is still the biggest handler at the world’s busiest cargo airport, and, like Pactl in Shanghai, can be regarded as a bellwether for trends in air freight demand to, from, and within Asia.

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