ACE Awards 2018: Top airports, carriers chosen for Air Cargo Excellence

For the Large Airport category (1 million tonnes and above), this year welcomed back many of the usual large hubs again, as they took top honors, including a Diamond Award for Singapore’s Changi International Airport (SIN). As the 7th largest air cargo airport, Changi saw its cargo handle increase by nearly 8 percent in 2017, as it handled 2.13 million tonnes of airfreight, crossing the 2-million-tonne annual mark for the first time.

Lim Ching Kiat, managing director of air hub development for the airport’s operator, Changi Airport Group (CAG), said Changi Airport is also preparing capacity for the future. Together with the remodeled Changi Airfreight Center, SIN’s handling capabilities will increase from 3 million to 5.4 million tonnes, annually. “We anticipate that sectors such as aerospace, e-commerce, perishables and pharmaceuticals will continue to grow and be the key drivers for Changi Airport’s cargo throughput,” Lim said.

Making another triumphant return to the Awards list is the world’s largest cargo operation, Hong Kong International (HKG), which earned a Platinum Award after settling for a Certificate of Excellence in the last survey. According to HKG, the airport’s cargo throughput rose by 9.2 percent, officially crossing the 5 million tonnes threshold – the first time any airport has reached that lofty tonnage figure.

With continuous growth in air traffic demand, the existing two-runway system at HKG is running close to its maximum capacity, but a third, 3,800-meter runway has been under construction since August 2016. The project involves reclaiming 650 hectares of land and adding 57 parking positions. By 2030, the new third runway will allow HKG to handle up to 9 million tonnes of cargo annually.

The previous year’s Diamond winner, South Korea’s Incheon International Airport (ICN), stayed on the podium this year, winning a Gold Award with 108 overall points. Tae-jin Lee, assistant manager of ICN’s cargo marketing team, said that, in response to the increase in cross-border e-commerce volume and perishable cargo, the airport is promoting the development of a 23,400-square-meter terminal tailored for express carriers, plus a 16,500-square-meter facility for Atlas Air and an 18,000-square-meter cool-chain center for perishables.

“Although caution is required with the likes of the rise in trade protectionism around the globe, mounting trade pressure from the U.S., and the increase in oil prices,” cargo volume at Incheon in 2018 is expected to slightly increase, Lee said, thanks to the recovery of the global  economy, led by the manufacturing and private consumption sectors.

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