US air freight outlook bleak

A senior air freight executive has painted a bleak picture of the air freight market for at least another year and half including warning of the demise of some allcargo carriers in the process.

Julian Keeling CEO of major US air freight wholesaler Consolidators International (CII) dispelled what he said was "more myth than reality" ofthe theory that a signifi cant portion of the world’s economies were "decoupled"from the US’.

"The American economy easily remains the single most important market for other nations’ exports, particularly from Asia. A slowdown in America means a slowdown in the export-driven economies of Asia," Keeling said bluntly.

Describing the current US economic slowdown as possibly the worst the country has experienced since World War II, Keeling said air freight is "facing the armies of the night". These armies include he said: "Th e endless war in Iraq draining our economy of $1 trillion, a housing wreck costing banks billions and foreclosures to millions, and continuing losses of high paying manufacturing jobs."

On top of this is the "catastrophic" price of oil, which is impacting every aspect of American life, "weakening the ability of both consumers and businesses to spend and invest".

Th e resulting impact on the global air cargo industry is obvious he said, although he concedes its severity is differentiated globally versus US domestic. "Domestic cargo is a basket case," he said bluntly. "The high price of fuel combined with the increased ability of truckers to penetrate the air cargo market is bringing ruination to domestic freight," Keeling warned. "Ironically, domestic air freight which started after World War II primarily as a method for moving emergency shipments, may be returning to its roots specialising in overnight ‘must get it there’ shipments," he said.