HIGHER: THE BIG GET BIGGER
For the most part, however, the year-long economic upturn in 2017 was clearly evident in the latest rankings.
Among the top 10 airports, the only reshuffling of the order came for Ted Stevens Anchorage (ANC) which moved up a rank to No. 5 with a 6.7 percent rise in cargo, bumping Dubai International (DXB) down one rung from the previous year to No. 6. Also, with 2.13 million tonnes handled in 2017, Singapore Changi (SIN) rose 7.9 percent over the previous year to sneak up two ranks and claim the No. 10 spot. Changi is undergoing a capacity expansion to 5.4 million tonnes via its new cargo hub, which is now in its second phase, said Jaisey Yip, Changi’s associate general manager of cargo and logistics/air hub innovation. However, it will not be operational until the early 2030s, she said.
“For the last two years. people have been demanding higher- quality perishables, which must be flown by air,” Yip explained. “The next major sector is advanced manufacturing, so things like semiconductors will continue to grow.”
According to ACI’s latest figures for the year 2017, collected from 2,500 airports in more than 175 countries, the longtime reigning champion, Hong Kong International (HKG) topped 4.9 million tonnes of air cargo that year, which was a 9.21 percent increase from the year before. But because HKG said it also handled 108,000 tonnes of airmail in 2017, which was not counted in the ACI figures, the airport said it officially broke the 5-million-tonne barrier in 2017.
“In recent years, the boom of cross-border e-commerce, particularly in mainland China, has created enormous opportunities for express and small parcel airfreight delivery,” said an HKG spokesperson. As a CEIV-Pharma-certified hub, HKG added that pharma traffic has seen a compound annual growth rate of 12 percent over the last four years.
The next three airports held the same ranks as they did last year: No. 2, Memphis (MEM), the central hub of FedEx, saw a modest 0.33 percent increase; No. 3, Shanghai Pudong (PUD) enjoyed an impressive 11.6 percent rise; and No. 3, Incheon (ICN) had an 8.6 percent rise.
The “2 million tonnes club” also rose from 13 airports last year to 15 this year. One of the recent additions to this club was Los Angeles (LAX), which processed nearly 2.1 million tonnes of cargo in 2017 (2.2 million, if mail is included). The 8 percent rise in cargo was enough to move LAX from No. 14 to No. 13 on the Top 50 list.
“Since the 2008 recession, LAX’s cargo operations have increased at a year-over-year average of between five and six percent, which has been two percent higher than national trends,” explained Frederick Badlissi, public information officer for LAX.
At No. 11 Frankfurt (FRA), the official tally was 2.1 million tonnes for 2017, although Roland Weill, vice president of cargo sales for Fraport AG, said that a significant amount of cargo volume is trucked through FRA that is not counted by ACI. Once those amounts are factored in, Weill said the more accurate representative should be 3.6 percent of growth to 2.23 million tonnes of cargo handled.
One of the factors driving cargo growth at FRA in 2017, Weill added, was from an increase in movement of dangerous goods, which were carried by German carrier, Lufthansa, which was the first airline to use the track-and-trace technology behind IATA’s electronic dangerous goods declarations (eDGD). The airport also benefitted from the “Fair@Link” data system alerts for trucked cargo entering FRA, despite the difficulties in getting the companies to share data “over concerns about competition,” he said.