Back in black? European air cargo business boom continues

With the March numbers starting to trickle in from European carriers and airports, early indicators suggest that the air cargo business is on track for yet another great month across the continent.

On the airport side, Heathrow saw what it’s CEO, John Holland-Kaye, described as “surging trade.” Meanwhile, Air France-KLM, which has struggled with declining volumes for years, saw a 5.6 percent year-over-year increase in RTKs, enough to push the carrier’s first-quarter total into the black at 0.5 percent over 2016.Air France KLM

Last month’s global cargo volumes at Heathrow rose nearly 13 percent, to 148,000 tonnes – the largest monthly growth in more than five years. Heathrow handles over 30 percent of non-E.U. exports, and more cargo by value than all other U.K. airports combined, which bodes well for the island nation’s international trade.

Heathrow also said that long-haul emerging markets drove cargo performance, with key markets including Mexico (up 28 percent), Brazil (up 13 percent), India (up 9 percent) and China (up 5 percent).

Other U.K. airports reported similar levels of growth. Manchester posted 14.9 percent growth in March, or just under 10,000 tonnes, which the airport accredited to “increased long-haul capacity” in passenger aircraft bellyholds to Beijing, Singapore, Houston and San Francisco.

While most major German airports have yet to post their numbers, Munich Airport saw first-quarter cargo turnover reach more than 85,000 tonnes, marking a y-o-y increase of approximately 8 percent.

Back to carriers, IAG Cargo posted a freight tonne kilometer increase of 6.6 percent for March, pushing its first-quarter volumes up 3.6 percent to 1.36 million tonnes.

The numbers are still coming in, but it is safe to say at this point that trade, measured in FTKs, is still on the rise in the E.U. economy for the first quarter of the year, despite the shudders that Brexit sent through the economy in 2016.

Those interested in learning more about airfreight in 2017, should join us at Cargo Facts Asia in Shanghai, 25 – 26 April.  To register, or for more information, go to


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