Air cargo rebounds on exports, Asia traffic

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 April, 2012, 12:00am
 

Hong Kong, the world's busiest international air cargo hub, saw a solid rebound in air cargo volume last month, driven by rising exports and transshipment traffic within Asia.

Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals (Hactl) said yesterday that its business in March was the best in 16 months, with export volume up0.4 per cent from a year ago and transshipments up 7.7 per cent. The ground handler moves about 70 per cent of all air cargo at Chek Lap Kok.

But overall tonnage fell 0.7 per cent from a year ago to 253,771 tonnes last month because of a 10 per cent drop in import volume.

Transshipments to Southeast Asia, which account for 44 per cent of the total, grew 18 per cent from a year earlier.

Exports to Europe and North America also saw signs of recovery. Europe, which accounts for 29 per cent of total exports from Hong Kong, fell just 1.9 per cent from a year ago, while North America dropped 3 per cent - an improvement on the steep declines recorded at the height of the global financial crisis.

'We have progressively closed the gap which opened during 2011, when we experienced a fall to as much as 12 per cent year-on-year,' said Hactl executive director Lilian Chan. 'We remain hopeful but cautious. Important markets in Europe and the United States are still unsettled.'

The express cargo operator was upbeat about the outlook for 2012.

'We are quite optimistic about the express cargo market this year as the intra-Asia market continues to be strong while the US also showed some signs of an uptick,' William Ng, managing director of UPS Hong Kong, said yesterday.

The company said it would continue to strengthen its Asia network this year, mainly via Shenzhen and Hong Kong. At present, UPS operates 144 weekly flight segments to and from Hong Kong after recently adding a Hanoi-Hong Kong leg. 'The debt crisis in Europe remains the biggest overhang,' Ng said.

UPS announced last month it would merge with smaller rival TNT as it tries to boost its presence in Europe and enhance its mainland network, Ng said. The merger hinges on regulatory approval from the EU.

18%

Transshipments to Southeast Asia increased by this much in March from a year ago

- They make up 44 per cent of the total

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