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Cargoes shipped through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) dropped 44.6% in the first half of 2020 to 189,441 metric tons (mt) from 342,021 mt in the same period last year.

Outbound shipments accounted for 51% of the total and inbound shipments the rest, data from Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) showed.

Outbound cargoes declined 46% to 96,748 mt from 178,801 mt while inbound cargoes decreased 43.2% to 92,693 mt from 163,220 mt.

The country’s main gateway started recording steep declines in March, following suspension of domestic and international flights as the government implemented travel restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Repatriation and cargo flights remained operational.

The travel restrictions caused airfreight capacity depletion, a shift from scheduled flights to charter flights and increase in freighter flights, according to Philippine Multimodal Transport and Logistics Association, Inc. president Marilyn Alberto in mid-June. The situation also gave birth to “preighters” or passenger aircraft used as freighters.

For March alone, cargo volume at NAIA dipped 59% to 25,583 mt from 62,044 mt in the same month last year. NAIA recorded its biggest decline yet in cargo traffic in April with 10,180 mt, 81.6% down from the 55,421 mt in April 2019. April is the first full month when the lockdown was implemented in the National Capital Region.

Shipments sank 69.4% to 18,096 mt from 59,199 mt in May, and to 29,299 mt from 56,429 mt in June, or a 48% decline.

In terms of flights, NAIA recorded 70,850 in the first half of 2020, 53.6% down from 152,833 in the same period in 2019.

Arrivals declined 53.5% to 35,381 flights from 76,027 flights while departures dropped 53.8% to 35,469 flights from 76,806 flights.

Some flights, mostly domestic routes, resumed in NAIA in June as community quarantines were eased. International flights resumed in NAIA Terminal 1 this month. – Roumina Pablo

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