The shift of manufacturing production to China’s interior provinces in search of lower labor, land and power costs is now being reflected in air cargo movements as well as ocean volumes.
Research by CAPA — Centre for Aviation shows that uplift volumes from the fast growing cities tagged the “Three Cs” — Chengdu, Chongqing and Zhengzhou, the latter named after its airport code CGO — all saw high levels of growth in 2012. Together the three airports now handle more cargo than China’s main air cargo market of Shanghai.
Zhengzhou, the capital of interior province Henan, saw its foreign trade almost double to $60 billion in 2012 compared to a year earlier. It is now a major center for leading original equipment manufacturers and is estimated to produce half of the world’s iPhones thanks to the substantial presence of Foxconn in the city.
Zhengzhou airport saw freight growth of over 40 percent last year as airport volume growth accelerated from less than 9,000 tons per month in the first quarter to 17,000 tons in November. This was reflected in figures from Seabury, which showed air cargo exports from Henan province increased 184.4 percent in 2012 to 105,314 tons.
Zhengzou airport is currently undergoing a major expansion to enable annual cargo movements of 500,000 metric tons by 2020.
Meanwhile Sichuan province, home to Chengdu airport, saw export tonnage total 82,292 tons last year, representing year-on-year growth of 54 percent, according to Seabury.
Chongqing airport recorded 15 percent growth in air freight throughput in the first 11 months of 2012, handling over 240,000 tons, CAPA said. Volumes were boosted by an ever growing number of freighter services by carriers including Air China, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, China Southern, Finnair, Qatar Airways and Qantas.
Chongqing is also China’s fastest growing province for air freight imports, with volumes up 39 percent year-on-year to 41,431 tons last year, according to Seabury.