Market volatility spurs mixed results for May airport volumes

Global airports’ preliminary results for May indicate continued weakness across the board. However, a more nuanced look at individual airports’ volumes, compared to the month prior, shows mixed results as some have seen a slight reprieve in volumes while others have worsened. Overall, figures for the month demonstrate the sustained market volatility the air cargo industry has expected throughout the first half of 2019.   

On a regional basis, although European airports still posted declines in volumes for May, the rebound the region’s carriers reported likely contributed to the slight reprieve in volumes most airports experienced. Meanwhile, Asian and American carriers reported declines, although airports in Asia were hit harder by declines in international cargo volumes than North American airports.  

Now onto May airport traffic on a regional basis:    


Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN) reported its May cargo throughput increased 3.0% y-o-y to 165,250 tonnes. Increases in both imports and exports contributed to this growth. For the full year, CAN’s cargo handle increased 2.1% to 754,061 tonnes.  

Seoul Incheon Airport (ICN) reported its total cargo handle at about 229,000 tonnes for May, down 7.7% from its May 2018 reported volumes. Year-to-date traffic is down 7.1% compared to the first five months of 2018, at 1.1 million tonnes. 

Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) reported a May cargo handle of about 148,000 tonnes – the largest handle so far in 2019, but still representing a y-o-y decline of 10.2%, thanks to an 11.2% decrease in its international cargo handle. Year-to-date, Pactl’s cargo throughput fell 10.3% through May, to about 685,000 tonnes. 

Singapore (SIN) reported its May cargo handle declined 4.8% y-o-y to around 170,000 tonnes. For the first five months of the year, SIN’s handle was down about 5.8% to around 820,000 tonnes.   


Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) saw a 7.6% decline in cargo volume this month, dropping to 134,000 tonnes of cargo. Its mail volume increased significantly though, rising 13.2% increase to 1,860 tonnes. Inbound cargo dropped across the board, except from the Middle East, which rose 5.2%. Outbound cargo also dropped across the board, except for a 7.5% increase in shipments to North America. Year-to-date cargo volumes have declined by 8.3% compared to the same period in 2018, bringing total volumes at the airport to 643,618 tonnes of cargo. 

Frankfurt Airport (FRA) saw a slight 0.6% increase in May’s cargo traffic with a count that totals to about 185,700 tonnes. U.S. and Africa traffic spurred the growth, increasing 9.2% and 13.7% respectively. Cargo exported to Asia, however, dropped 5.1% – likely due to the trade war between China and the U.S. India and Vietnam did see significant growth though, at 6% and 24.7% respectively. Middle East traffic dropped 3.4%, and Latin America saw an 8.3% plunge. For the first five months of 2019, cargo volumes have declined by 2.5% y-o-y at the airport to 891,194 tonnes. 

London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) saw a 7.3% y-o-y decline in May cargo volume, but slight increase in month-to-month volumes, to 134,000 tonnes. Volumes decreased y-o-y in most of the major markets served by LHR, with traffic within the European Union declining by 11%, North America declining by 10% and Asia-Pacific by 7%, but Latin America and Africa were both up, by a respective 14% and 7%. Year-to-date, LHR’s handle declined 3.8% compared to the same period in 2018.  

Vienna Airport’s (VIE’s) cargo handle fell 1.5% y-o-y in May, to 23,661 tonnes. For January through May, VIE’s air cargo handle declined 2.9% to 113,838 tonnes, compared to the same period the year prior.    


Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky (CVG) reported that its cargo volumes decreased 2.0% y-o-y in May and reached 105,912 tonnes in throughput. Year-to-date, cargo volumes are up 4.1% at the airport to 519,167 tonnes, continuing the airport’s tonnage growth since January.    

Ontario International Airport (ONT) handled 68,174 tonnes of cargo, resulting in a 7.8% increase in May cargo volumes over the year prior. Freight volumes at the airport grew 8.6% y-o-y for the month, while mail volumes declined by 9.8% y-o-y. ONT’s cargo handle year-to-date increased 4.4% y-o-y to 301,713 tonnes.    

Los Angeles (LAX) reported a 5.2% decrease y-o-y in its May cargo handle, to 198,746 tonnes. Volumes at the airport were down 3.4% for the first five months of the year, compared to the same period in 2018.    

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport’s (SEA’s) cargo handle decreased 2.3% y-o-y in May to 36,234 tonnes. Freight volumes at the airport decreased by 2.5% in May overall – domestic freight increased by 0.2% y-o-y while international freight volumes declined by 8.2% y-o-y. Year-to-date, SEA’s cargo handle rose 2.2% to 169,286 tonnes, compared to the same period the year prior.  

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