September airport volumes show few signs of peak season  

Leading airports have begun reporting preliminary cargo throughput figures for September 2019 that indicate overall market weakness, worldwide. While most airports saw continued declines in volumes, a few reported month-to-month improvements, but hardly what is hoped for at the traditional onset of peak season.   

Airports located in all regions posted declines in volumes for September, with only a handful of airports including Guangzhou (CAN), Cincinatti/Northern Kentucky (CVG) and Seattle (SEA) reporting increases in volumes. Airports in Europe were hit hardest for the month, in line with earlier carrier traffic reports in the region. Meanwhile, although airports in the Americas and Asia Pacific reported mixed results, some airports in those regions saw slight month-to-month improvements , including CAN, CVG, Ontario (ONT) and Shanghai (PVG). Stakeholders in the region hope to see improvements in volumes over the next several months, but will also continue practicing prudence in operations in the turbulent market environment. 

Now to consider September airport traffic on a regional basis: 


Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN) reported its September cargo throughput increased 3.2% y-o-y to 171,733 tonnes. Increases in exports offset a decrease in imports at CAN for the month. For the full year, CAN’s cargo handle increased 1.4% y-o-y to just below 1.4 million tonnes.  

Seoul Incheon Airport (ICN) reported its total cargo handle at about 230,432 tonnes for September, down 9.5% from its September 2018 reported volumes. Year-to-date traffic is down 7.3% compared to the first nine months of 2018, at 2.0 million tonnes. 

Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG)’s Pactl reported a September cargo handle of about 310,900 tonnes, a flatline compared to the year prior. Year-to-date, PVG’s cargo throughput was 5.0% lower yeart-to-date for the first three quarters of the year, at about 2.6 million tonnes. 

Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) reported its September cargo handle declined 7.8% y-o-y to 170,000 tonnes. For the first nine months of the year, SIN’s handle was down about 6.4% to around 1.49 million tonnes. 


Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) saw a 6.0% decline in cargo volume for the month, dropping to 136,819 tonnes of cargo. Its mail volume increased, though, rising 5.3% y-o-y to 1,747 tonnes. Inbound cargo dropped across the board, except from the Middle East, which rose 8.7%. Outbound cargo also dropped across the board, except to Latin America and Africa, which saw increases of 0.7% and 9.2%, respectively. Year-to-date cargo volumes have declined by 9.2% compared to the same period in 2018, bringing total volumes at the airport to over 1.1 million tonnes of cargo. 

Frankfurt Airport (FRA) saw a 5.5% decrease in September’s cargo traffic with a count that totals to about 174,789 tonnes. Airfreight and airmail volumes were down 5.7% and 1.7% y-o-y, respectively. FRA attributed overall declines in traffic to continued global trade conflicts, crisis in the German industrial sector and political insecurity. For the first nine months of 2019, cargo volumes have declined by 2.9% y-o-y at the airport to just under 1.6 million tonnes. 

London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) saw an 11.7% y-o-y decline in September cargo volumes to 125,693 tonnes.  Year-to-date, LHR’s handle declined 6.0% to just under 1.2 million tonnes, compared to the same period in 2018. 

Vienna Airport’s (VIE’s) cargo handle fell 3.0% y-o-y in September, to 24,913 tonnes. For January through September, the airport’s cargo handle declined 4.8% to 207,820 tonnes, compared to the same period the year prior. 


Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky (CVG) reported that its cargo volumes increased 0.9% y-o-y in September and reached 101,615 tonnes in throughput. Year-to-date, cargo volumes are up 1.8% at the airport to 909,121 tonnes, continuing the airport’s tonnage growth since January. 

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) reported that its cargo throughput dropped 11.9% y-o-y in September to 184,860 tonnes. Significant declines in freight volumes contributed to this drop. Year-to-date, cargo volumes are down 5.6% y-o-y at the airport to just over 1.7 million tonnes. 

Ontario International Airport (ONT) handled 61,463 tonnes of cargo, a slight decline of 0.4% y-o-y in cargo volumes compared to the year prior. Freight volumes at the airport saw a slight increase of 1.5%y-o-y for the month, which was offset by a steep decline in mail volumes. ONT’s cargo handle year-to-date increased by 2.3% y-o-y to around 557,283 tonnes. 

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport’s (SEA’s) cargo handle increased 3.4% y-o-y in September to 36,961 tonnes. Freight volumes at the airport increased by 4.7% in September overall – domestic and international freight increased 2.6% and 9.0% y-o-y, respectively. Year-to-date, SEA’s cargo handle rose 3.2% to 336,522 tonnes, compared to the same period the year prior. 

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