The profitability of Asian carriers with major freighter fleets continues to be negatively impacted by the overhang of excess capacity, but the long-term outlook for air freight is “encouraging,” according to the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines.
Rate and volume growth on major East-West trade lanes has been stagnant for much of the last two years, but the AAPA believes this is not due to a fundamental shift away from air by shippers of high-value and time-sensitive goods. Instead, the association claims, this is simply a “reflection of sluggish international trade flows” that are also affecting the maritime sector.
“There are some signs that the worst of the slump in air cargo demand in recent years is now over,” the AAPA said in a statement issued to mark its Assembly of Presidents meeting in Hong Kong. “Asia-Pacific carriers with major dedicated freighter fleets look forward to the growth in world trade returning to pre-recessionary levels in order to achieve meaningful returns on their investments in the latest generation of freighter aircraft.”
Andrew Herdman, AAPA director general, said that despite growing competition and persistently high fuel costs, the freight downturn was being offset by strong regional economic growth and passenger demand.
“Asia-Pacific carriers have good reason to be optimistic,” he said. “Having tightly controlled costs and invested heavily in the latest generation of fuel efficient aircraft in recent years, airlines from the region are well equipped to compete vigorously amongst themselves and with carriers from outside the region.”
“Achieving a broader recovery in the air freight business of Asian carriers is a more prolonged process, which will very much depend on world trade growth rates returning to more normal levels,” Herdman said.
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