Worldwide air cargo volume remained steady in 2012 compared to activity in the previous two years, according to Airports Council International’s preliminary world airport traffic rankings.
For the third year in a row, Hong Kong International Airport was the world’s busiest cargo airport.
HKIA took the reins from Memphis International Airport, 2012’s second-place finisher, in 2010. Both airports experienced an increase in cargo activity of more than 2 percent when compared to 2011’s numbers.
On a micro-level, 2012 air cargo activity tells a different story than its global results. Half of the busiest air cargo airports saw activity declines last year, and many regions saw year-over-year air cargo drops.
Total cargo carried, including mail, showed no growth from 2011, while total international freight fell by 0.1 percent. Total aircraft movements declined by 0.2 percent.
These uncertain results were borne of an uncertain worldwide economy, but according to ACI’s Rafael Echevarne, 2013 should prove to be an improvement.
“Amid the significant downside risks in the euro area and the fiscal deadlock in the United States that remained omnipresent throughout the year, growth in the air cargo market came to an overall halt in 2012,” he said in a statement. “As the global economy and international trade gradually picks up steam, we are optimistic to see stronger demand for air transport in the latter half of 2013.”
Regionally, the Middle East led the way for total air cargo in 2012, with a 4.9-percent, year-over-year increase in volumes to 5.01 million tons on an 8.6-percent increase in movements. Latin America also showed cargo growth, rising to 4.78 million tons, a 1.1-percent uptick compared to 2011. Cargo numbers in Africa and Asia-Pacific both inched up by 0.4 percent, and North American cargo growth stood at 0.2 percent. Europe was the only region to show a decline, finishing the year at just under 17 million tons, which was good for a 2.6-percent drop.
Zeroing in on just international cargo, the Middle East showed a 4.5 percent increase compared to 2011, with Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America turning in numbers ranging from 1 percent to 1.6 percent. North American exports fell by 1.2 percent to 8.8 million tons, and European traffic declined to 14.9 million tons, a 2.8-percent, year over year, drop.
The six regions all submitted year-over-year growth in passenger numbers, with most showing increased of more than 6 percent. The Middle East also lead the way in that regard with a 13.1-percent change.
The top 10 busiest cargo airports in the world carry over from 2011’s rankings, though there have been some changes in positioning. Anchorage fell from third to fourth place, switching spots with Incheon, while the main airports in Louisville and Dubai ascended the list. The airports in Frankfurt and Paris both fell back.
Hong Kong airport finished the year at 4.06 million tons, and Memphis saw 4.01 million tons of activity. Shanghai, at 2.9 million tons, saw a 5.3-percent drop in activity, and Anchorage experienced a 3.3-percent drop to 2.5 million tons. Dubai’s activity was up 3.1 percent to 2.3 million tons. Louisville saw volumes fall by 0.9 percent to 2.2 million; Parisian activity dropped by 6.5 percent to 2.2 million tons; and Frankfurt cargo fell by 6.7 percent to 2 million tons. Tokyo Narita, which took the 10th spot, saw air cargo activity grow by 3.1 percent to just more than 2 million tons.
Leipzig airport, which finished in spot 25, was the only airport in the top 30 to see air cargo increases of more than 10 percent. The next largest gain at 6 percent was seen by Beijing. - Jon Ross