Shanghai's Pactl passes 2014 cargo target to finish off record year

Shanghai's Pactl passes 2014 cargo target to finish off record year

HONG KONG — Record December throughput took Shanghai Pudong International Airport Cargo Terminal Ltd. (Pactl) past its annual 2014 target of 1.45 million tons as healthy demand kept air freight flowing through China’s busiest airport.

Almost 50 percent of cargo passing through Shanghai Pudong is handled by Pactl, and total tonnage at the terminal in 2014 reached 1.5 million tons, up 16.15 percent year-over-year.

The Sino-German joint venture registered a throughput of 136,932 tons in the final month of the year, up 14.6 percent compared to December 2013 and a record figure.

Outbound international cargo tonnage for the month was up 14.69 percent compared to December 2013, reaching 75,032 tons, and international imports were 51,875 tons, an increase of 13.76 percent. For the full year, the total international import-export component grew almost 17 percent compared to 2013 to hit 1.4 million tons as demand for air freight increased.

Lower oil prices are reducing the gap between air and ocean freight, improving airline competitiveness as a lower fuel surcharge helps offset any base rate increases, BB&T Capital Markets said in a note to customers.

Also helping to push up air freight tonnage during 2014 was U.S. West Coast port congestion, traditional traffic peaks related to Thanksgiving and Christmas, and the launch of new mobile products.

Also finishing off the year in good shape is Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Ltd. (Hactl) that has just completed its first full calendar year without Cathay Pacific, which moved out in 2013 to its own terminal next door and took 1.2 million tons of annual cargo along with it.

But the city’s largest air air freight terminal made strong gains towards making up for the loss of its largest customer by recording a throughput growth 8.7 percent above that of 2013 once the Cathay contribution was stripped out, Hactl chief executive Mark Whitehead said in a newsletter to staff. The December figures have not yet been released, but by November, Hactl had handled 1.65 million tons during the year.

“The growth in tonnage has been due to several factors: we acquired several new customers in 2014; the increased volumes of many of our customers and a strong fourth quarter performance helped by the congestion at the U.S. West Coast seaports and the temporary shift of cargo from sea to air,” Whitehead said.

With a robust air freight market, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said 2014 will be a record year once the results are released and is predicting growth of 4.5 percent. Asia and the Middle East are leading the way and airline profitability is being lifted as demand continues to outpace supply, delivering improving yields.

BB&T reported that semi-conductor sales, a solid indicator of air cargo volume, had remained strong. According to the Semi-conductor Industry Association (SIA), worldwide semiconductor sales reached $29.67 billion for the month of November 2014, an increase of 9.1 percent from November 2013. Global sales for the first 11 months were up 10 by the end of November, reaching the full year figure of 2013 and assuring a record year.

November marked the 19th straight month of year-over-year improvement, and the association noted that macro economic trends boded well for continued growth in 2015 with year-to-date demand strong across all regions, led by the Americas and Asia-Pacific.

Contact Greg Knowler at and follow him on Twitter: @greg_knowler.