Hong Kong International Airport saw cargo volumes surge in January but the true state of air freight demand ex Asia will not become clear until March due to the distorting impact of the Chinese New Year holidays.
HKIA’s tonnage increased 21.2 percent to 334,000 metric tons last month as year-on-year volumes were boosted by the New Year holidays, which started on 10 February this year, compared to 21 January in 2012. This increased the volumes flown in January this year versus January 2012, but is expected to negatively affect February’s year-on-year cargo figures.
Meaningful year-on-year comparisons can only be made by combining volumes for January and February, said Stanley Hui Hon-Chung, Chief Executive Officer of Airport Authority Hong Kong.
“Over the Chinese New Year holidays, a total of over 600 extra flights will be arranged to various popular holiday destinations for Hong Kong residents such as Taipei, Bangkok and Seoul,” he said. “We expect to see a surge in travel by Hong Kong residents over the Chinese New Year holidays in mid February.
“Likewise, with most factories on the Mainland closed for the Chinese New Year holidays, air cargo is expected to decline in February over last year.”
Figures from Airports Council International showed that HKIA had the highest cargo throughput in the Asia Pacific region in 2012. The region as a whole saw a 0.5 percent increase in cargo traffic year-on-year, but a 4.2 increase was recorded in the Middle East.
After HKIA, which handled over four million metric tons last year, came Shanghai Pudong, with 2.8 million metric tons, and Seoul Incheon, which recorded throughput of 2.3 million metric tons in 2012. In fourth place was Dubai, with 2.2 million metric tons, followed by Tokyo Narita, with 1.9 million metric tons.
Despite the economic uncertainty worldwide, some airports in the Asia-Pacific region recorded double-digit growth rates in air freight traffic in 2012, according to ACI.
Leading lights were Jakarta (+19.4 percent), Abu Dhabi (+17.7 percent), Manila (+11.5 percent), Hangzhou (+10.4 percent) and Riyadh (+17.0 percent).
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