Future Airport Investment - Anything In it for Air Cargo?

Keeping pace with the times! Something which airports around the globe have high on their agendas. The need to invest in new equipment, infrastructure and retail outlets is high on the minds of many large, and even smaller airport operators. Necessary in their view, in order to remain competitive and not have their clients wander across to other borders.

Projected Regional US$ Investment - courtesy CAPA
Projected Regional US$ Investment - courtesy CAPA

Investment of up to US$1 Trillion
A report published not long back by CAPA Centre for Aviation highlighted the fact that around US$1 trillion has been allocated globally for airport investment during the coming three to four decades.
$1 trillion - that’s a thousand billion dollars. An almost unimaginable sum. CAPA indicates however that this will not be enough to meet future transport demands. The largest investment will be carried out in the Asia Pacific region, where undoubtedly there are far less regulatory issues to be solved before construction and extension of airport facilities is concerned. The second area is of course the Middle East where the same applies. Lagging behind however are planned future investments in Europe and North America. Latin America and Africa remain rather insignificant although one has to wonder whether this may change in Africa if Chinese conglomerates continue their expansion plans there.

What about cargo facilities?
That’s what interests us and our readers most! There have been quite some steps taken during the past decade as far as the planning and construction of new air cargo facilities is concerned. This applies also to much needed extensions of existing cargo handling areas and the introduction of the “temperature sensitive“ product handling across the globe.
However, is there enough capital being put into the streamlining and updating of future cargo facilities. The passenger branch has always being the most important for many airports and cargo has traditionally had to fight through many offices in order to get at least part of what they want.
There are exceptions however. In Europe one of them is Liege Airport, which although officially termed as a secondary airport, has managed with good will from all sides to come up with new cargo handling facilities which in the future will be beneficial for pharma and e-commerce expansion.


The larger airports, although investing much money, don’t seem to have realized that the e-commerce boom needs a complete rethink as far as cargo handling is concerned. This leaves the door wide open for others which have the space, but not necessarily the funds to expand.
So called ‘hard cargo’ handling will not disappear, but the small parcels business by air is increasing in leaps and bounds. Just look at China and try to count how many new all cargo airport handling facilities are either on the drawing board or being constructed. These are mostly for the inner Chinese e-commerce business. However the same will be needed latest by the middle of the coming decade in Europe, North America and other regions in the Far East.
So, will a good part of the US$1 trillion end up in the cargo pot?

John Mc Donagh

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