Big not necessarily better for JAL Cargo

Ongoing turbulence in the air cargo industry continues to pose signifi cant challenges to carriers, but for Japan Airlines and its cargo division, going smaller means greater flexibility in adapting to these trying times.

The challenging global operating environment for air cargo carriers – one characterised by slowing demand, growing capacity and record high fuel prices – has left no carrier unscathed. "I hope this condition will not continue for a long time and at some point the air cargo market will be much more profitable," said Japan Airlines’ vice president, planning and marketing for cargo, Yuji Fujitaspeaking to Payload Asia in Tokyo.

"All we have to do now is survive under this severe condition – and we are quite confident we will survive – so I see a very bright future for JAL’s cargo business," he adds.

It’s tempting to simply dismiss the statement as mere obligatory corporate optimism. Even more so since it comes only days after the carrier, like several of its competitors in recent months, entered into a plea agreement with the US Department of Justice to plead guilty to antitrust violations and pay a fi ne of US$110 million (nearly Â¥11 billion).

But JAL Cargo’s survival is surely beyond doubt and will not be merely accidental, as well. A far reaching strategy to improve efficiencies, cut costs and maximise the strengths already inherent in its operations are setting the carrier on a new, albeit low-key route.