Hong Kong, Amsterdam lose air cargo to Covid as smaller airports gain

HONG KONG, the world's largest cargo airport, experienced a seven per cent decline in cargo to 4

20 January 2021 - 19:00
HONG KONG, the world's largest cargo airport, experienced a seven per cent decline in cargo to 4.5 million tons in 2020, and 87 per cent fewer passengers.

The airport handled 68,660 cargo flights during the year, an 18.3 per cent surge compared to 2019. The damage to Hong Kong came in the loss of passenger traffic because so much cargo is transshipped from regional flights to long-haul passenger and freighter flights.

In Europe, Frankfurt Airport in Germany reported 73.4 per cent and 8.5 per cent declines in passenger and cargo volume for 2020, reported New York's FreightWaves. The ninth ranked airport in terms of international air cargo volume handled 1.9 million tonnes. Cargo volume grew nine per cent in December, the third consecutive month of gains.

Leipzig/Halle Airport and Amsterdam's Schiphol both handled 1.4 million tons in 2020, but they took different routes to that total. Air freight grew 11.7 per cent at Leipzig/Halle, Germany's second-largest cargo airport, setting an annual record for tonnage, while volume fell eight per cent at Schiphol.

Airport operator Mitteldeutsche Flughafen said the current year is shaping up well, headlined by medical goods, protective equipment, possible Covid vaccines and e-commerce packages.

Leipzig/Halle is home to DHL Express largest air hub and began hosting Amazon Air's first European air hub in early November. Medical shipments are expected to increase once construction is completed on a nearby logistics centre for disaster management. About 60 cargo airlines now serve the airport.

At Schiphol, freighters accounted for 61 per cent of total volume, with 29 per cent carried on passenger flights and 10 per cent in passenger planes reassigned to cargo transport. Schiphol is the 14th busiest airport in the world for international air cargo.

The airport said inbound volume fell 4.7 per cent and exports dropped 11.7 per cent compared to 2019. The three biggest destinations for cargo tonnage were Shanghai, China, Doha, Qatar, and Chicago.

Meanwhile, Brussels Airport reported 2.2 per cent growth in cargo to 512,000 tons as passenger traffic plunged 74 per cent. The strongest growth, 43 per cent, came from all-cargo aircraft thanks to the arrival of several new carriers and the use of passenger aircraft as mini-freighters, which accounted for 30 per cent to 40 per cent of the full freighter activity. Express business also grew a healthy 18 per cent.

Imports, especially from Asia, increased, while exports decreased versus the same month a year ago. The airport is also at the forefront of Covid shipments.

A 19 per cent drop in cargo delivered by truck from other airports pulled Brussels Airport's overall volume down by three per cent. In December, normally a strong cargo month, volumes decreased 3.4 per cent compared to an unusually strong month in 2019.

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