Hong Kong International Airport saw freight volumes rise 3 percent, year-over-year, to 328,000 tonnes in August. Strong traffic to and from Japan and Southeast Asia, as well as a 3 percent, year-over-year, surge in exports, drove growth, according to a press release.
HKIA, which eclipsed Memphis International Airport as the world’s busiest cargo airport in 2010, also saw slight improvement from an eight-month standpoint. The airport processed 2.6 million tonnes of freight from January to August, a 0.2 percent, year-over-year, increase; aircraft movements surged 5.4 percent, year-over-year, during this period.
An spokesman for the Airport Authority Hong Kong said he expects even stronger traffic in the latter part of the year. “We’ve started to see some positive growth in cargo throughput recently,” the spokesman told Air Cargo World. “The airport authority will keep a close eye on the latest situation in the cargo market. Although the cargo performance will still be affected by Eurozone crisis and US economy in the short term, we are confident in HKIA’s long-term air traffic demand.”
Despite such optimism, the Asia-Pacific as a whole has seen sluggish passenger and cargo volumes lately. International Air Transportation Association statistics showed freight demand plummeting 7.6 percent, year-over-year, in the Asia-Pacific in July, while passenger carriers in this region recorded only 0.8 percent, year-over-year, growth during this period.
July wasn’t the only month that Asia-Pacific cargo carriers fared much worse than their passenger counterparts, however. IATA revealed that freight carriers in this region have seen “virtually no” traffic growth since the fourth quarter of 2011.
Moving forward, the spokesman sees a few key challenges for HKIA. Aside from the general sluggishness of the economy and the price of fuel, one concern specific to the airport is capacity.The airport authority spokesman cited estimates that by 2030, cargo volume at HKIA will reach 8.9 million tonnes. Currently, there’s not enough room for that type of expansion, he said.
“To truly handle unconstrained demand up to 2030 and possibly beyond,” the spokesman said, “HKIA needs to build a third runway.”