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Dim Global Air Freight Seen
The condition of the air freight sector is rarely transparent and so it remains, with signs of a downturn mixed with some volume increases, according to Thomas Cullen of Transport Intelligence (Ti).
Cullen said the background to the closure of Lufthansa's Chinese joint venture Jade Cargo as well as Grand Star Cargo, which was a Korea Air joint venture, appears to demonstrate both the over-supply of capacity on China routes as well as depressed export volumes.
The other side of this equation has been the economic turbulence in Europe. Already weak, consumer expenditure has taken further hits; even in the economically stable markets of Northern Europe.
Cullen said this appears to be reflected in results from London Heathrow Airport's cargo terminal which saw May volumes fall by 3.8% year-on-year; an acceleration of the 2.3% fall seen for the year so far in 2012. In contrast, passengers moving through the airport increased by 2.3%.
Singapore Changi International Airport reported similar results, with cargo volumes for May down by 2.8% on a year-on-year basis. For the year so far, volumes are down by 1.3%; but again passenger demand is up.
However, Hong Kong International Airport reported its first increase in total cargo volume in over a year, with a 1.1% rise for May.
Drilling-down into the figures, it can be seen that much of the growth has come from increases in export business to the Middle East, South America and Southeast Asia, said Cullen.
Europe and North America continue to have lower volumes as compared to 2011. Additionally, import volumes into Hong Kong remain subdued and the position for the past 12 months sees volumes still 4.5% lower.
Cullen said that the demand on European routes may continue to fall, although some other destinations such as Southeast Asia, the Middle East and South America may provide some growth.
However, the ability of these destinations to compensate for falling consumer demand in western markets may be limited, he added.
[ ] 2012-07-01