Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) was once again the busiest cargo hub in the world last year, according to preliminary world airport traffic rankings released by the Airports Council International (ACI) World.
ACI published the figures during the 11th Annual Airport Economics & Finance Conference & Exhibition in London yesterday where it said cargo hubs saw volume growth weaken in 2018.
The airport trade body said the air cargo market did not fare as well as passenger traffic with a year-end growth figure of 3.2 per cent. This is in contrast to a much stronger year of growth in 2017 but comes against a backdrop of global trade tension between the United States and several of its closest trade partners.
Total air cargo volume at the 20 busiest airports (pictured above) – representing 42 per cent of all global air cargo volumes – grew a modest 1.3 per cent as they handled a combined 51 million metric tonnes of cargo. This comes after a year where global cargo volumes rose markedly by 7.7 per cent in 2017.
HKIA remains the largest air cargo centre, handling more than five million metric tonnes of cargo in 2018 and its volume growing 1.4 per cent against 2017 with Memphis Airport in second place with growth of 3.1 per cent, and Shanghai Pudong International Airport third, with a decline in cargo volumes in 2018 of 1.5 per cent. Shanghai grew by 11.2 per cent in 2017 but this decline shows that demand has softened.
Additionally, despite signs of weakness in the cargo market, a number of airports stand out with Doha, Qatar’s main hub, continuing to be one of the fastest-growing airports in the world for air cargo throughput and is also among the busiest. It moved from 16th to 11th in the rankings.
ACI World director general, Angela Gittens said the picture for cargo was not as good as the passenger sector “against a backdrop of global trade tension”.
“The ongoing trade war between the United States and several of its closest trade partners was a shock for the industry and global supply chains,” she added.
The top 20 airports for aircraft movements grew by 2.4 per cent in 2018. Chicago O’Hare Airport has surpassed Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport to become the busiest airport in the world for aircraft movements. Both airports experienced slight declines in 2017 but have since recorded growth of 4.2 per cent and 1.8 per cent respectively.