Seafreight woes boost cargo volumes at Hong Kong’s Hactl

Strong international trade and a shift from ocean to airfreight have pushed cargo volumes at Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Ltd. (Hactl) up 16.6 percent in the first half of 2017, according to the ground handler. Whatever the cause, some 860,242 tonnes of freight during those first six months are undeniable proof that exports, imports, transhipments and mail/express are all rising.

Hactl has now outperformed the Hong Kong market every month since September 2016. That said, Hong Kong Airport posted its own not-too-shabby cargo growth rates over the last half year of 11.2 percent.

Hactl accredited an ongoing modal shift from sea to air, overflow from mainland Chinese airports and the continuing strengthening of e-commerce traffic. “Deliberate reductions in ocean capacity, continued slow-steaming and port congestion due to mounting use of mega vessels are all playing a part in the shift from ocean to air,” said Hactl CEO, Mark Whitehead. “The volumes involved will be of little concern to the ocean business, but are a significant bonus to the airfreight industry.”

Whitehead said that growth should continue during peak season and for the rest of 2017, but at a slower pace, noting that, “Forwarders and airlines are planning and booking ahead for the final quarter, having been caught out in 2016 by high spot rates driven by restricted capacity.”

While Whitehead anticipates more stately growth throughout the remainder of the year, global growth in cargo volumes have outpaced most projections, and some forwarders, such as Panalpina, are warning shippers to book now to avoid last-minute price increases and delays due to congestion.

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