CARGO RUT DEEPENS BETWEEN US, JAPAN, BOEING OFFICIALS SAY

CARGO RUT DEEPENS BETWEEN US, JAPAN, BOEING OFFICIALS SAY

Air cargo traffic between the United States and Japan is still falling, further depressing an already sluggish trans-Pacific market, Boeing Co. analysts said.

Volume dropped 7.5 percent last year and fell about 7 percent more in the first half of this year, according to David Pierce, Boeing's regional director for airline market analysis."We haven't hit bottom yet," he said.

Boeing reviews air cargo figures to check the accuracy of its annual forecasts. A check this month showed that continued drops in Japanese and South Korean air freight are neutralizing growth in other Asian countries, he said.

Shipments to and from Japan accounted for 39.8 percent of the trans- Pacific air freight market last year, down from 42.8 percent in 1991. South Korea represented another 10.5 percent last year.

Volume would be even lower except that a drop in rates has spurred some traffic to air that might otherwise go by ship, he said.

John Riley, research director for Air Cargo Management Group, said the Seattle consulting firm had observed the same continued drop in volumes for shipments between the United States and both Japan and South Korea.

At the same time, however, air freight from China to the United States is skyrocketing, he said. China's air cargo exports to the United States are only slightly behind those from Japan, he said.

China's volume jumped 28 percent last year and continue to grow this year, Mr. Riley said.

But Chinese traffic is heavily imbalanced, with Chinese exports far surpassing imports from the United States. Air cargo trade with Japan is much more balanced, Mr. Riley said.

The imbalance with China forces some carriers seeking westbound cargoes to fly to Australia and Hong Kong on their way to China, he said.