Air freight rates, particularly out of China, could jump on increased shipments of Apple, Samsung, LG and Microsoft products and reduced capacity, BB&T analyst Kevin Sterling wrote in an Aug. 16 research note. He said the industry could see a bump similar to that experienced in March when Apple released the iPad 3, causing spot rates to jump 20 percent in one week.
“Historically, each new generation of the iPhone sells as many units as all of the previous versions combined. While this remains to be seen with the iPhone 5, analysts predict that Apple will sell over 170 million units during the first four quarters in the market, with the potential to sell 250 million units if the company can maintain the iPhone growth rate it has experienced to this point,” according to Sterling.
Although the air cargo industry appears to be recovery, Asian carriers have been hit the hardest, resulting in deep cuts in capacity and even grounding of fleets. Asia-Pacific carriers in June cut capacity 1.3 percent as demand slipped 3 percent year-over-year, according to the International Air Transport Association.
Sterling expects Atlas Air customers, including DHL and British Airways, to be major recipients of the potential surge in cargo traffic. There is also a possibility of additional charter flights out of Chengdu International Airport, which is near the factory of Foxconn, an Apple assembly partner. FedEx and UPS could also benefit, but Sterling warns freight forwarders might be squeezed as they were during the March shipment surge.