Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Ltd (Hactl), the largest cargo handler at the airport, said growth in the amount of cargo handled slowed last month, but freight forwarders expect a big end to the year.
Cargo handled last month rose 17.5 per cent year on year, against 27.7 per cent in July, with the slowdown attributed to the high base comparison in August last year. The company handled 243,039 tonnes of cargo last month, down 5.4 per cent from July.
Export cargo rose 25.8 per cent year on year to 135,826 tonnes, after growth of 35.5 per cent in July. Growth in import cargo slowed to 9.2 per cent to 61,131 tonnes from 22.5 per cent in July.
In the first eight months of the year, Hactl handled 1.89 million tonnes of cargo, up 33.9 per cent from the same period last year.
Hactl accounts for 80 per cent of the general cargo moved at the Hong Kong International Airport, the busiest in the world in terms of cargo volume.
Freight forwarders say they are not concerned about the slowdown in cargo growth. They said the outlook for demand for this month and next was positive, with cargo scheduled to be shipped out to the United States and Europe for the festive shopping season.
'We have received a lot of inquiries about shipping products such as the new version of the iPod,' one freight forwarder said. 'I am a bit worried that there is not enough cargo capacity for handling the surge in demand in the fourth quarter.'
Shipment contracts for Thanksgiving in the US were under way, and demand was strong so far, he added.
Since air cargo demand started to recover strongly from August last year, the high base comparison would continue to lower year-on-year growth in the next few months, industry observers said.