Freighter movements at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) saw a strong growth with 24.3 per cent year-on-year increase in April 2020, as carriers scrambled to move vital Covid-19 cargo in the absence of passenger belly holds.
HKIA saw cargo throughput drop 14.2 per cent compared to the same month last year, to 338,000 tonnes while passenger number plummeted 99.5 per cent to 32,000 and flight movements slid 73.5 per cent to 9,445.
Cargo exports to some markets recorded year-on-year increases, with North America being the strongest market, which was left scrambling for personal protection equipment and medical equipment as the virus rolled across the country.
The overall decline in cargo handled was mainly attributed to the 51 per cent decline in transhipments, while exports increased by 4.0 per cent compared to the same month last year. Traffic to/from key trading regions in Southeast Asia and India decreased most significantly in the month, the airport says.
Cissy Chan, executive director, commercial of the Airport Authority Hong Kong says: “It is a challenging time for air cargo as airlines have suspended most of their passenger flights, leading to a significant reduction in belly capacity for cargo.
“However, the demand for air cargo has remained relatively strong, especially for commodities related to COVID-19 prevention, including face masks and other medical supplies, as well as consumer electronics.
“HKIA has maintained a relatively stable cargo throughput, attributable to the airport’s extensive freighter network and agility in facilitation of chartered cargo flights, in addition to airlines using passenger aircraft for all cargo operations. The AA will continue to work with our cargo operators to provide efficient and reliable cargo handling services.”
Over the first four months of the year, HKIA handled 1.3 million tonnes, a drop of 11.7 per cent compared to the same period last year. Passenger traffic and flight movements were down 67.5 and 48.5 per cent respectively.
On a 12-month rolling basis, cargo throughput reached 4.6 million tonnes, representing a decrease of 7.8 per cent year-on-year.