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Airports report weak start to 4Q with mixed October volumes

Preliminary results for October airport volumes worldwide are out, indicating continued market weakness across the globe. While air cargo holds out hope for volumes to stabilize, the start of this year’s fourth quarter is not as positive as many would have hoped due to continued global trade tensions and political uncertainty.

Regions posted mixed results in October, with only a handful of airports like Seattle (SEA), Shanghai (PVG), Ontario (ONT) and Guangzhou (CAN) reporting increases in monthly volumes. In line with weak reports from European carriers released for October, European airports saw the most significant declines in volumes across the board. Meanwhile, Asia and the Americas saw mixed performance for monthly and cumulative volumes. Regarding month-to-month changes in volumes, some airports, like ICN, PVG, LHR, LAX and ONT saw increases that may signal a boost to volumes is on its way with the start of holiday season. However, declines in volumes from September to October seen at other airports, such as CAN, FRA, VIE and CVG, combined with the downward trend of cargo seen over 2019 overall has stakeholders ultimately maintaining conservative expectations for the rest of the year.

Now to consider October airport traffic on a regional basis:


Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN) reported its October cargo throughput increased 1.6% y-o-y to 170,067 tonnes. Both imports and exports saw growth at CAN for the month. For the full year, CAN’s cargo handle increased 1.5% y-o-y to just over 1.5 million tonnes.

Seoul Incheon Airport (ICN) reported its total cargo handle at about 248,537 tonnes for October, down 5.6% from its October 2018 reported volumes. Year-to-date traffic is down 7.1% compared to the first ten months of 2018, at 2.7 million tonnes.

Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) reported an October cargo handle of about 328,00 tonnes, a 2.3% increase compared to the year prior. Year-to-date, PVG’s cargo throughput fell 4.2% through the first ten months of the year, to about 2.9 million tonnes.


Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) saw a 6.2% decline in cargo volume for the month, dropping to 143,594 tonnes of cargo. Its mail volume increased, though, rising 7.8% y-o-y to 1,974 tonnes. Inbound cargo dropped across the board, except to, from and within Europe, which rose 3.4%. Outbound cargo also dropped across the board, except Europe and the Middle East, which saw increases of 7.1% and 6.0%, respectively. Year-to-date cargo volumes have declined by 8.9% compared to the same period in 2018, bringing total volumes at the airport to over 1.3 million tonnes of cargo.

Frankfurt Airport (FRA) saw a 7.3% decrease in October’s cargo traffic with a count that totals to about 179,273 tonnes. Airfreight and airmail volumes were down 7.5% and 2.9% y-o-y, respectively. FRA attributed overall declines in traffic to continued global trade conflicts and political insecurity. For the first ten months of 2019, cargo volumes have declined by 3.4% y-o-y at the airport to over 1.7 million tonnes.

London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) saw an 8.2% y-o-y decline in October cargo volumes to 137,784 tonnes. Year-to-date, LHR’s handle declined 6.2% to just over 1.3 million tonnes, compared to the same period in 2018.

Vienna Airport’s (VIE’s) cargo handle fell 2.8% y-o-y in October, to 26,646 tonnes. For January through October, VIE’s air cargo handle declined 4.6% to 234,467 tonnes, compared to the same period the year prior.


Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky (CVG) reported that its cargo volumes decreased 3.3% y-o-y in October and reached 106,943 tonnes in throughput. Year-to-date, cargo volumes are up 1.3% at the airport to just over 1.0 million tonnes.

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) reported that its cargo volumes dropped 6.6% y-o-y in October to 202,224 tonnes in throughput. Significant declines in freight volumes contributed to this drop. Year-to-date, cargo volumes are down 5.6% y-o-y at the airport to just over 1.9 million tonnes.

Ontario International Airport (ONT) handled 67,994 tonnes of cargo, increasing by 2.7% y-o-y in cargo volumes over the year prior. Freight volumes at the airport saw an increase of 4.6%y-o-y for the month, which offset a steep decline in mail volumes. ONT’s cargo handle year-to-date increased by 2.4% y-o-y to around 625,276 tonnes.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport’s (SEA’s) cargo handle increased 9.5% y-o-y in October to 39,555 tonnes. Both domestic and international freight also saw significant increases for the month. Year-to-date, SEA’s cargo handle rose 3.8% to 376,107 tonnes, compared to the same period the year prior.

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