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Hong Kong sees a surge in growth for first half of 2017

It has been a truly impressive start to the year for Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA), with growth in traffic right across the board. In terms of air cargo business, HKIA has handled an impressive 2.3 million tonnes of cargo already this year in the first six months to June – that’s up a remarkable 11.3% on the same period last year.

Booming exports

So what has been behind HKIA’s great start to the year – and more importantly, do the experts think it will be sustained? Well, in the latest figures from June, 410,000 tonnes of cargo passed through the airport, up 11.4% on 2016 – and there are indications that a 17% year-on-year increase in June exports from the airport led to the high growth in cargo tonnage for that period. That bump in export figures has certainly contributed then to the airport’s positive performance in the first half of 2017, but HKIA has also benefited from an improved global outlook. And with the Asian markets leading the way in air cargo growth, HKIA is in prime position to take advantage of a global economic performance that is looking positive in terms of consumer and business confidence.

Investing for the future

HKIA isn’t standing still, with work starting last August on a third runway to help accommodate future growth. The airport is also making further investments to ensure it meets the needs of customers.

“On the cargo front, HKIA continues to develop its ability to serve fast-growing segments of the high-value cargo business, such as fresh produce and temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals that require specialised handling,” says an airport spokesperson. “The airport authority and local industry stakeholders are working closely together to pursue the IATA Centre of Excellence for Independent Validators in Pharmaceutical Logistics (CEIV Pharma) accreditation on airport community basis and HKIA is expected to be recognised as an IATA CEIV Pharma Partner Airport by the third quarter in 2017.”

A sustainable future

Ignazio Coraci comments: “Clearly Hong Kong is an important site for both our ASC Cargo and SW Italia businesses, and so the news that air freight handling is continuing to grow there is great to hear. I’m also really encouraged by the investment in infrastructure that is being made at HKIA – it will go a long way towards making sure that the performance we’ve seen so far this year is sustained.”

Global Air Cargo Demand Climbs in February 2017

New data has recently come to light, which illustrated that global demand for air cargo climbed at a phenomenal pace during the second month of 2017. Ignazio Coraci gives his take on these figures.

Changing fortunes

2016 was a challenging year for businesses. An uncertain geo-political climate, with events such as Brexit damaging investor sentiment, coupled with a slowing Chinese economy to ensure that 2016 only saw moderate trade growth. This inevitably had an impact on the fortunes of the global air cargo sector, which depend upon trade to thrive, ensuring it too only recorded moderate growth last year.

But the fortunes of the worldwide air cargo sector are changing this year. Despite the fact that January is a traditionally bad time for the sector, air cargo volumes expanded on some key routes during the opening month of the year. On the Hong Kong/US and Hong Kong/Europe routes, for example, air freight rates were 9.1% and 6.5% higher respectively in January 2017, than they were in January 2016.

Strong demand

Figures released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) indicates that the global air cargo industry kept growing in February 2017, according to Airport Technology, an aviation sector news hub. The IATA notes that worldwide, demand for air freight climbed by 12% – way higher than the five year monthly average of 3%, in terms of freight tonne kilometres (FTKs) in this month.

Commenting, IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac noted: “February further added to the cautious optimism building in air cargo markets. Demand grew by 12% in February—about four times the five-year average rate. With demand growing faster than capacity, yields got a boost. While there are signs of stronger world trade, concerns over the current protectionist rhetoric are still very real.”

Further progress

The organisation also found that when compared to February 2016, demand for global air freight ticked up by 8.4%. The IATA further noted that when measured in available freight tonne kilometres (AFTKs), the capacity of the worldwide air freight industry dropped by 0.4% in February 2017, while there was also a slight uptick in global trade volumes, which correlated with the air cargo demand rise.

Turning his attention to the air cargo market’s future prospects, Alexandre said: “Any optimistic look at the future sees growing demand for specialised value added services. Shippers are telling us that the key to turning the current uptick in the cargo industry’s fortunes into longer-term growth is modernising our antiquated processes. We must use the current momentum to push ahead with the elements of the e-cargo vision—including the e-air waybill which is nearing 50% market penetration.”

Brighter future

Giving his commentary on the IATA’s latest data, Ignazio Coraci noted: “The global economy is starting to recover from a rocky 2016, benefiting the worldwide air cargo industry and boosting demand during February 2017. With cross-border e-commerce, an increasing lucrative market for air cargo, set to grow rapidly over the next five years, the future is looking brighter and brighter for the industry.”