EU Airports on track for strong 2016

EU air cargo volumes remained buoyant into the month of November, with exceptions such as Frankfurt reflecting a pilot’s strike, rather than long-term downturns.

In the UK, Heathrow’s cargo volumes rose 4.4 percent year-on-year (y-o-y) making it Britain’s largest port, with almost 30 percent of UK exports by value. Heathrow did brisk trade with China, up 10.6 percent, Turkey up 10.4 percent, Mexico up 7.3 percent and Brazil up 5.6 percent. The airport’s CEO, John Holland-Kaye used the opportunity to promote the controversial third runway, saying that, “since the Government’s backing of a third runway, we’ve put a team in place that will help us to deliver the benefits of expansion as quickly as possible.”

Across the channel, Germany’s largest aviation hub floundered as Lufthansa pilots walked off the job, grounding thousands of flights. November cargo fell 2.1 percent y-o-y to 191,461 tonnes. That said, yearly volumes are still up 1.3 percent over 2015, suggesting that November’s slump has more to do with labor issues that with systemic matters. The airport said that, “the strike and an unfavorable timing of weekends and weekdays,” were to blame.

Brussels Airport continued its rapid recovery into November with cargo flights increasing 18 percent to 1,341. Belly cargo was down 11.4 percent but a 55.5 percent increase in full freighter volumes and a further 8.5 percent in integrator capacity more than offset the decline. Total cargo moved in the month was 45,564 tonnes.

Barring any further disruptions, Europe’s major airports are on track for an aggregate improvement in cargo volumes in a year where observers fretted about a slowing economy in China and Brexit, to name just a few consternations.

ACI Europe, which represents 500 airports in 45 European countries noted that Freight traffic across Europe jumped by 8.7 percent in October, making it the best monthly performance since May 2011. The organization also pointed to double- and even triple-digit growth at some of the trade bloc’s smaller airports, many in Eastern Europe, as evidence that air freight was stronger than expected.

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