Airports’ November volumes signal potential turning point for industry

Airports across the world have released information on November cargo volumes, showing improvements to volumes to end a difficult year. Although the seasonal uptick in volume during the holidays is to be expected, IATA pointed out in its monthly trend report that load factors’ steady improvement by 2 to 2.5 percentage points from August to November may also be “a sign of some degree of returning health for the beleaguered air cargo business.

Asia and America reported mixed results, while European airports mostly saw declines in volumes – with a handful of airports like Seattle (SEA), Shanghai Pudong (PVG), Vienna (VIE) Ontario (ONT) and Guangzhou (CAN) reporting increases in monthly volumes. Even despite continued market weakness, month-to-month increases in volumes seen at many airports, including Seoul (ICN), PVG, Amsterdam (AMS), Frankfurt (FRA), VIE, Los Angeles (LAX) and ONT may signal a turning point for the industry as figures reported for 2019 near their end. Stakeholders tell Air Cargo World they maintain a “cautiously optimistic” view for business as the industry enters 2020.

Now to consider November airport traffic on a regional basis:


Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN) reported its November cargo throughput increased 0.6% y-o-y to around 175,457 tonnes. Both imports and exports saw growth at CAN for the month. For the full year, CAN’s cargo handle increased 1.4% y-o-y to just over 1.7 million tonnes.

Seoul Incheon Airport (ICN) reported its total cargo handle at about 252,575 tonnes for November, down 3.4% from its November 2018 reported volumes. Year-to-date traffic is down 6.8% compared to the first eleven months of 2018, at 2.5 million tonnes.

Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) reported a November cargo handle of about 319,00 tonnes, a 7.9% increase compared to the year prior. Year-to-date, PVG’s cargo throughput fell 3.1% through the first eleven months of the year, to about 3.1 million tonnes.


Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) saw a 5.4% decline in cargo volume for the month, dropping to 136,256 tonnes of cargo. Inbound cargo dropped across the board, except to, from and within Europe. Outbound cargo also dropped across the board, except to the Middle East, which saw an increase of 4.9%. Year-to-date cargo volumes have declined by 8.5% compared to the same period in 2018, bringing total volumes at the airport to over 1.4 million tonnes of cargo.

Frankfurt Airport (FRA) saw a 5.0% decrease in November’s cargo traffic with a count that totals to about 186,670 tonnes. Airfreight and airmail volumes were down 5.0% and 5.1% y-o-y, respectively. FRA attributed overall declines in traffic to continued global trade conflicts and political insecurity. For the first eleven months of 2019, cargo volumes have declined by 3.6% y-o-y at the airport to over 1.9 million tonnes.

London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) saw an 8.2% y-o-y decline in November cargo volumes to 137,784 tonnes. Year-to-date, LHR’s handle declined 6.2% to just over 1.3 million tonnes, compared to the same period in 2018.

Vienna Airport’s (VIE’s) cargo handle increased 1.2% y-o-y in November, to 26,606 tonnes. For January through November, VIE’s air cargo handle declined 4.0% to 261,073 tonnes, compared to the same period the year prior.


Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky (CVG) reported that its cargo volumes decreased 6.2% y-o-y in November and reached 105,664 tonnes in throughput. Year-to-date, cargo volumes are up a slight 0.5% at the airport to over 1.1 million tonnes.

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) reported that its cargo volumes dropped 6.5% y-o-y in Novmeber to 199,793 tonnes in throughput. Significant declines in freight volumes contributed to this drop. Year-to-date, cargo volumes are down 5.7% y-o-y at the airport to just over 2.1 million tonnes.

Ontario International Airport (ONT) November handle reached 67,657 tonnes of cargo, increasing by 4.2% y-o-y in cargo volumes over the year prior. ONT’s cargo handle year-to-date increased by 2.5% y-o-y to around 692,933 tonnes.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport’s (SEA’s) cargo handle increased 7.9% y-o-y in November to 36,379 tonnes. Year-to-date, SEA’s cargo handle rose 4.1% to 412,486 tonnes, compared to the same period the year prior.

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