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China’s national transport indicators denote regional variance in cargo flows 

This week, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAACannounced the country’s transportation production indicators for March showing that different parts of the country are seeing more cargo flow than others. 

While overall cargo volumes moving through Chinese airports was weak at a nationwide level, statistics for airports by region showed that Chinese airports overall saw a 1.6% year-over-year increase in cargo volumes to 1.413 million tonnes of cargo in March. Meanwhile, cargo from January to March declined 2.4% y-o-y to 3.761 million tonnes 

Regionally, airports in China saw varied changes in their y-o-y cargo handles: 

  • Eastern China saw an 0.4% y-o-y increase in cargo volumes to 1.056 million tonnes in March but experienced a 3.6% y-o-y decline in cargo volumes to 2.78 million tonnes for the first quarter of the year 
  • Central China saw a 12.2% y-o-y increase in March cargo volumes to 98,000 tonnes and a 3.9% y-o-y increase in volumes to 256,000 tonnes from January to March 
  • Western China saw a 2.6% y-o-y increase in March volumes to 213,000 tonnes of cargo, while experiencing a marginal 0.2% y-o-y decline in first quarter cargo to 589,000 tonnes 
  • Northeastern China saw a 2.1% y-o-y increase in March cargo handled to 47,000 tonnes, as well as a 2.8% y-o-y increase to 136,000 tonnes of cargo for the period of January to March 

The overall hit to Chinese airports’ cargo volumes nationally comes as no surprise, given the negative impact that U.S. tariffs have had on Asian carriers’ and airports’ cargo volumes since February. While it may take some time for cargo flows to shift, China is already working to increase its cargo flows with countries such as BudapestUruguay, the European UnionVietnam and Ethiopia over the past several months. 

The variance in cargo volumes moving through China regionally, however, aligns with figures Cargo Airport News first reported on in March. At the time, Guangzhou Baiyun (CAN) saw a rebound in growth, while Shanghai Pudong (PVG) continued to experience declines in volumes – these major regional airports’ cargo handles clearly represented larger changes in their respective region’s volume flows – Central China’s airports saw the most growth nationwide for the month, while Eastern Chinese airports suffered the greatest declines in volumes.  

Moving into April, CAN posted a slight increase in volumes, while PVG continued to post declines in cargo handled at its airport. The continued decline in Asian carriers’ volumes, as reported by our sister site, Cargo Facts, likely contributed to the declines in month-to-month volumes both CAN and PVG reported. 

CAN reported a 1.7% y-o-y increase in cargo volumes to 158,688 tonnes of cargo – increases in both imports and exports contributed to this growth. For the year thus far, cargo handled at CAN increased 1.8% year-to-date to 588,810 tonnes of cargo. However, month-to-month cargo volumes at the airport declined 4.7% from March to April. 

At PVG, cargo handled at the airport declined by 9.7% y-o-y for the month of April, to 293,900 tonnes of cargo – declines in both domestic and international volumes contributed to this trend. Year-to-date cargo volumes have declined 9.2% to 1.099 million tonnes of cargo. Month-to-month volumes declined by 6.5% from March to April. 

Be sure to check back next week for Cargo Airport News’ monthly report on global airport cargo volumes for a larger look at evolving cargo flows worldwide. 

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Chelsea Toczauer

Chelsea Toczauer is the Associate Editor of the company’s daily news and monthly magazine Air Cargo World. She holds two BAs in International Relations and Asian Languages and Cultures from the University of Southern California, as well as a double accredited US-Chinese MA in International Studies from the Johns Hopkins University-Nanjing University joint degree program. Chelsea speaks Mandarin and Russian.