Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Limited broke previous tonnage records in 2010 even as growth slowed in the third and fourth quarters, the company reported Wednesday.
Total annual tonnage throughput of year 2010 hit a new handling record of 2,899,603 metric tons, up 24.8 percent from the previous year, which was hit hard by the global recession. The total was 14.5 percent higher than in 2008 and topped the previous record high of 2,632,300 metric tons achieved in 2007.
Growth in the fourth quarter slowed progressively. Tonnage handled in the fourth quarter was 765,677, representing a year-on-year increase of 9.5 percent. In December, the terminals handled a total of 249,694 metric tons, representing a 7.4 percent year-on-year increase over 2009.
"The growth in airfreight demand had continued all the way throughout 2010 although we saw a milder growth in the third and fourth quarter due to the higher base effect in the second half of 2009," said Lilian Chan, executive director of HACTL. "2010 has been an extraordinary year of roller coaster recovery from the global economic downturn. Not only did our annual tonnage result reach pre-crisis level, but we also managed to achieve a number of new handling records that made 2010 a year of unprecedented success for our team here at HACTL."
The slowing growth in December and the fourth quarter paralleled results for Hong Kong International Airport, which saw cargo traffic increase just 7.1 percent year-over-year in November after a 15.5 percent surge in October. Overall cargo volume for the airport slipped 1.3 percent from October to November.
"Asian carriers are in a strong position as a result of the exploding demand in China where consumer sentiment is high," said Chan.
A robust economic recovery drove strong export demand throughout the year, HACTL said. Export tonnage for the whole year reached 1,589,223 metric tons, indicating a year-on-year growth of 28.9 percent. Export tonnage for the fourth quarter was 423,825 metric tons, up 8.5 percent against the same period in 2009. Export volume to Europe and the U.S. for the fourth quarter increased 7.0 percent and 14.5 percent against the same period in 2009 respectively. Export tonnage in December showed a year-on-year growth of 4.8 percent, with a total of 132,904 metric tons being handled.
Imports grew a healthy 18.8 percent against 2009 to 741,943 metric tons due to strength early in the year but eked out only a 1 percent gain in the fourth quarter and actually dipped 0.5 percent in December.
With the relatively weaker U.S. currency, import volume from the U.S. picked up quickly throughout the whole year. Import throughput from the U.S. surged 40.6 percent year-on-year. That demand showed signs of slowing at Los Angeles International Airport in November as freight traffic fell 2.6 percent, the first decline the major trans-Pacific gateway has reported in 15 months.
Import volume from Europe in 2010 also showed year-on-year growth of 24.1 percent.
Total transshipment volume for the whole year was 568,437 metric tons, representing a year-on-year growth of 22.0 percent. Cumulative transshipment tonnage for the fourth quarter was 154,806 metric tons, up 25.1 percent year-on-year. Transshipment volume for December was 51,758 metric tons, up 28.3 percent against the same month in 2009.
-- Contact Thomas L. Gallagher at email@example.com.