OPINION Airport World
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Airport World editor, Joe Bates, reflects on the importance of cargo to the world’s gateways.
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s many of you already know, the last few years have been particularly tough for cargo, with many of the world’s biggest operators – airports, airlines and freight forwarders – feeling the pinch in terms of a dip in traffic. The downturn in fortunes began with the global financial crisis of 2007-2008, which led to a two-year slump in traffic before a mini-recovery in 2010. Since then, cargo volumes have remained more or less static. ACI’s preliminary figures for 2012 show that while the world’s top airfreight hubs, Hong Kong (HKG) and Memphis (MEM), achieved growth of 2.2% and 2.5% respectively, more than half of the world’s 30 busiest cargo gateways (57%) reported a decline in tonnage – including six of the top 10. It was a very different picture in 2007, the last really strong year for freight, when only six of the top 30 biggest cargo performers and just one of the top 10 cargo airports posted negative results. There were also huge regional differences in performance in 2012, with both Africa (+2.1%) and the Middle East (+4.2%) enjoying healthy upturns in volume, while Europe (-3%) reported a decline and tonnage in Asia-Pacific (+0.5%), Latin America/Caribbean (-0.2%) and North America (+0.2%) remained about the same. Explaining the 2012 results, ACI’s economics director, Rafael Echevarne, commented: “Amid the significant downside risks in the Euro area and the fiscal deadlock in the United States throughout the year, growth in airfreight came to an overall halt in 2012. However, as the global economy and international trade picks up steam, we are
optimistic that we will see higher growth rates for freight traffic in 2013.” Indeed, the latest ACI/DKMA forecast produced for Airport World (see page 37) predicts that global tonnage will enjoy ‘modest growth’ of around 3.6% per annum over the next five years, including an upturn of around 2.9% this year. In the light of this new found optimism for airfreight, we thought it only right that we should turn the spotlight on cargo in our first issue of 2013, and contemplate what possibly lies ahead for this important, yet often overlooked side of the business. As a result, in this issue we discover how the world’s busiest cargo gateways are faring; consider the importance of supply chains; review the success of all-cargo gateways; and round-up some of the latest cargo news from across the globe. In addition, we hear how TIACA secretary general, Daniel Fernandez, believes that the worst of cargo downturn could be over for the international cargo industry and hopes for a more positive year ahead. But it’s not all about cargo, as this issue also has features on airport gardens, intermodalism, avian radar, leadership, the A380, airfield safety, retail, infrastructure development and a comprehensive round-up of The Trinity Forum 2013 in Abu Dhabi. I hope you enjoy this action packed edi tion, and look forward to seeing you at the Economics AW and Finance Conference in SIngapore.
AIRPORT WORLD/FEBRUARY-MARCH 2013