The collapse of tourism and business travel since the start of the dispute between China and Japan over the Senkaku islets in September is creating freight opportunities for some carriers due to the dearth of direct cargo capacity.
Mainland Chinese carriers cut seat capacity on Japanese routes by 18 percent in October as load factors dropped to 55 percent from 80 percent. ANA saw some 50,000 seat reservations canceled from September to December, and Air China has already withdrawn 46 direct flights to various destinations in Japan over January-March, after previously canceling over 100 flights from late October to January.
However, although China’s imports from Japan plunged 9.6 percent year-on-year in September and 12 percent in October, the rate of decline of passenger demand has far outstripped demand for express cargo services.
Despite all its cancellations, ANA is now upgrading its service between Osaka and Tsingtao by replacing Boeing 737s with B767s to enable more cargo to be loaded.
Cathay Pacific has also seen an uptick in demand. “Passenger carriers have canceled or downgraded many flights from wide to narrow bodied aircraft. This has therefore significantly reduced direct cargo capacity,” a spokesperson said.
“Overall volumes have been down. However as an indirect carrier we have gained some cargo due to this reduction in direct carrier capacity,” she said.
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