Asia’s leading airlines saw international air cargo demand contract last year despite a partial recovery in the final quarter.
Preliminary figures from the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines revealed brisk growth in passenger numbers but a 0.6 percent contraction in international air cargo demand despite a 1.1 percent increase in capacity.
Andrew Herdman, AAPA director general, said air cargo markets had been “subdued” in 2013 but had picked up toward the end of the year due to increased demand for Asian exports in Europe and the U.S.
“Given expectations of a continuing modest improvement in global economic conditions, the outlook for Asian carriers remains broadly positive,” he said. “Nevertheless, operating margins remain compressed as a result of weak cargo revenues and other competitive pricing pressures.
“Airlines are responding by investing in newer more fuel-efficient aircraft, other productivity improvements, and value added service enhancements.”
Indeed, analysts and industry members have expressed optimism regarding growth for Asian air cargo in 2014, with Paul Tsui, chairman of the Hong Kong Association of Freight Forwarding and Logistics, forecasting a 5 to 7 percent increase year-on-year, for example.
Recently, the International Air Transport Association projected 2.1 percent growth in freight ton-kilometers globally in 2014, accelerating from an estimated growth rate of 1.0 percent for 2013. Asia-Pacific carriers account for 40 percent of the global market, according to IATA.
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