Asian cargo carriers doing best they can

Asian cargo carriers have done pretty much all they can in dealing with the ongoing economic crisis that has paralysed the air cargo sector and left the industry with no visibility as to when things will recover, said the head of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA).

While cargo volumes were softening in the first half of last year, the dramatic plunge in the second half – particularly in December – still came as a rude shock, said Andrew Herdman, director general of AAPA, in an interview with Payload Asia.

“Our carriers represent a third of global FTKs, but I think it took people awhile to recognise that Asia would be as dramatically affected, if not more so than other regions of the world,” said Herdman.

“Even in the middle of last year there was talk of de-coupling and the idea that China and India would keep on growing, softening the blow. But this isn’t a financial crisis this is a global recession and trade is being hit very hard by the lack of consumer confidence worldwide.”

He added that its not entirely clear as to the source of this lack of confi dence because it included consumers who had no exposure what-so-ever to failing banks or the subprime crisis. But the subprime debacle and related developments rapidly undermined confidence, people stopped buying things and businesses reacted and “as a result air cargo just became part of that story,” said Herdman.

“The idea that the growth story continues is clearly in question,” he said in reference to China and India. “The contraction in trade is so sharp and overall it’s a tough outlook for cargo, even bigger for air cargo than ocean freight and there’s no suggestion it’sbottoming out.”