Hong Kong retains position as world’s busiest air cargo hub by volumes

Hong Kong International Airport retained its spot as the busiest air cargo hub by volumes in 2017, according to data released by the Airports Council International (ACI) World.

The airport trade body said air cargo volumes at the 20 busiest airports grew by 6.8 per cent in 2017. These airports handled a combined 51 million tonnes of cargo. This represents 43 per cent of global air cargo volumes.

Hong Kong handled more than five million tonnes of cargo in 2017, growth of 9.4 per cent year-on-year. Shanghai, Chicago and Doha all experienced double digit growth of 11.2 per cent, 12.6 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively.

ACI said: “Air cargo experienced a revival across many of the world’s airports in 2017 and into 2018. Even with the uncertainty regarding the threat of trade wars and the growth of protectionist sentiments across the world, business confidence has remained strong through inventory build-ups and increased export orders in 2017.”

The trade body said a strengthened economy in the United States (US), together with an increase in global industrial production, and a strong US dollar have boosted inbound air cargo markets in recent years.

ACI director general, Angela Gittens said: “The surge in cargo volumes and passenger numbers across many of the world’s airports is testament to heightened business and consumer confidence, at least in the short term.

“The world’s airports continue to be a vital link in the economic multiplier effect that aviation provides and the role it plays as an enabler for global commerce is growing.

“The universal access to online retail and e-commerce platforms represents a competitive pressure to the traditional brick and mortar retail shops in certain markets but the huge growth in e-commerce has fuelled the air cargo side of the airport business.

“This has resulted in increased global activity, especially in major markets such as China and the US.”

Gittens added: “The spectre of uncertainty regarding trade policy among major economies comes at a time when global commerce and our industry has recently thrived. The trans-pacific link, for instance, is an important ingredient in boosting international passenger traffic and international freight volumes.”

“Connecting people, business and places still remains paramount to the aviation sector despite the recent threats of a step backwards in market liberalization in some major economies,” Gittens concluded.