Unfortunately, not all airports reported such positive results for 2018. As you can see in the chart here, several airports in Europe and Asia-Pacific, in particular, saw volumes decline compared to 2017, for a variety of reasons that airport operators are not eager to discuss.
In the case of Tokyo Narita (NRT), which fell one spot in the ranking to No. 9 with a 3.23% decline in volumes, the weakness is almost certainly due to the fact that major Japanese cargo carrier Nippon Cargo Airlines was forced to ground its entire freighter fleet over improper record-keeping. The carrier resumed operations over several months, reintroducing routes as it received approval to do so, but the grounding had a substantial impact on NCA’s traffic for the year, and on NRT’s cargo handle.
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS), on the other hand, faced a much different issue. The airport reported a 10.4% drop in full freighter movements y-o-y for 2018, related to a local rule the airport began enforcing in 2017 that has seen freighter operators like U.S.-based Kalitta Air lose their operating slots at the airport. While a new local rule was approved in 2019, it remains to be seen how many slots at AMS will be filled by freighters, as the airport is seemingly focusing on passenger development.
Looking ahead to the end of the year, airports are still hopeful that the peak season will help ameliorate the lackluster volumes reported for most of 2019. Based on what we know so far, airports that have put substantial effort into developing their cargo operations during the heady days of 2017 may be the bright spots in an otherwise challenging year.