Moving into 2015, ACI said that, although the rate of growth in airfreight demand has slowed, volume still grew by 3.4 percent for the first half of 2015. However, in its mid-year assessment, ACI said the industry appears set for relatively low growth in the second half of 2015, compared to the same period the previous year.
The Middle East, again, experienced the greatest increase in accumulated volumes as compared to other regions, at 8.6 percent, year-over-year, from January to June 2015. After the Middle East, North America, with its strengthening economy, posted the highest growth at 4.8 percent, y-o-y, in the first half of 2015.
Chris Mangos, marketing director at Miami International (MIA), said total freight activity by tonnage has “dropped a fraction of one percent” in the first half of 2015, after growing by 2 percent overall and 4 percent in international freight through the first quarter. The continued decline of Latin American economies, particularly in Brazil, has affected activity at MIA, one of the key hubs in the United States. “Signs of such fallout were already apparent when looking extensively through regional and individual country activities during the first three months of this year,” he said.
Of most serious concern was the Asia-Pacific market, which has driven so much airfreight growth in previous years but which has become “enfeebled” in the first half of 2015, according to ACI. The weakening of international trade activity in Asia limited overall growth in the region’s volumes to just 3 percent for the January-to-June period, year-over-year. Cross-border shipments, which make up the majority of traffic in the region, had the worst showing, with only 2.7 percent growth in H1 2015, while domestic traffic rose by 3.8 percent during the same period.
HKIA, which has been the busiest cargo airport in terms of tonnage since 2010, was mostly flat in the first half of 2015, with traffic rising just 0.6 percent, year over year. “The cargo traffic was mainly impacted by the economic weakness in the Eurozone,” said a spokesperson for HKIA. “On the other hand, the regional cargo traffic also underperformed due to Asian trade slowdown.”
The next two largest hubs in Asia, Shanghai Pudong and Seoul’s Incheon International, had y-o-y increases of 5 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively, from January to June this year. Baiyun International Airport, in Guangzhou, reported first-half cargo volume up 7.3 percent, y-o-y, to 729,000 tonnes.
In Europe, despite the signs of rising business confidence, ACI said the “shadow of uncertainty regarding the Greek debt crisis” has left a pall over the European airfreight business, with volumes rising only 0.5 percent during H1. The region’s three major airfreight hubs, Frankfurt, Paris-CDG and Amsterdam Schiphol, all experienced declines of 2.3 percent, 4.7 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively, in the first half of 2015.
Dirk Schusdziara, senior vice president, cargo, Fraport AG, which operates Frankfurt Airport, said that Frankfurt’s recent troubles are shared by many other carriers due to an industry-wide “cyclical development,” stemming from the weakening Chinese economy. “In addition, the sea freight business is marked by huge overcapacity. This puts additional pressure on the margins of air cargo customers,” he said.
“It’s disappointing that we have not seen some growth again in 2015 so far but, given the current weakness of our major market, China, the tonnages are better than we might have expected,” said Jonas van Stekelenburg, head of cargo at the Schiphol Group. “The weakness of the Russian economy also impacted one of our biggest flower markets, affecting exports around Valentine’s Day and other events in their calendar when flowers are given.”