HKIA’s extensive freighter network has helped maintain volumes during the current crisis, although Airport Authority Hong Kong has also announced an array of relief measures to support the airport community
The outbreak of COVID-19 has posed great challenges to the aviation industry, including air cargo traffic of Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA). As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, the post-Chinese New Year holiday production resumption in Mainland China was delayed, leading to a reduction of air cargo volume. There also has been a large reduction in passenger flights and hence belly capacity for cargo due to worldwide travel restrictions.
However, with the concerted effort of the airport cargo community members, HKIA’s cargo services are being provided as efficiently as they have always been. Thanks to HKIA’s extensive freighter network, with large and agile capacity supply, HKIA handled 378,000 tonnes of cargo in March 2020, registering a 12.4% year-on-year decrease under this unprecedented volatile market situation – while the global air cargo market saw a close to 20% decline.
In fact, the AA has been working closely with airlines in maintaining their freighter schedule and mounting additional flights to compensate the drop in belly capacity. Also, the AA took the lead to work with the government on the facilitation measures for the air crew members so that impact of quarantine measures on their duty is minimised and the freighter services are safeguarded.
Moreover, tailored handling procedures and facilitating measures have been established to help airlines operate all-cargo services with passenger aircraft, thus allowing airlines to make good use of their aircraft resources to meet the demand for cargo service.
To support our business partners, the AA announced an array of relief measures to airport community in March amounting to HK$1 billion. One measure is that airlines will receive 40% reduction of passenger aircraft landing charges for four months, and full waiver on parking and airbridge fees for idle passenger aircraft for five months. Another HK$2 billion relief package was introduced by the AA in early April to ease the liquidity pressure of airlines and aviation support services operators. The government has also announced a new Anti-epidemic Fund which includes providing a one-off non-accountable subsidy of HK$1 million per large aircraft registered in Hong Kong.
Long-term cargo commitment
Despite the challenging business environment, the AA is committed to the long-term development of air cargo and continues to execute our multi-pronged cargo development strategies amid the pandemic.
To capture the booming e-commerce market, a premium logistics centre equipped with advanced robotics is being developed at HKIA by a joint venture led by Cainaio Network, the logistics arm of Alibaba Group. Expected to commence operation in 2023, the centre has an estimated gross floor area of 380,000sqm, making it the third-largest warehouse in Hong Kong. Also, the expansion of DHL’s Central Asia Hub to increase its handling capacity by 50% to 1.06 million tonnes is underway as scheduled. In fact, more online shopping in times of pandemic has given rise to more demand in air freight, especially express service.
HKIA also continues to enhance its capability to handle temperature-controlled air freight at globally assured standards. Not only as a Partner Airport of IATA’s Center of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) in Pharmaceutical Logistics, HKIA was also the world’s first airport community to receive IATA’s CEIV Fresh certification in 2019.
HKIA remains confident in the fundamental and long-term prospect of air cargo. With the consistently efficient services, large supply of handling capacity and the concerted effort of the air cargo community, HKIA is well-placed to serve the market demand anytime when the traffic resumes to normal.