Bemoaning the modal shift

Increasingly, Payload’s editorial contributors and I, find ourselves writing about the migration of cargo from air to other modes. In Asia, TNT for instance, has been busy building its pan-Asian road network, specifically targeting a vast market it believes will jump at the chance to move goods faster than sea, but cheaper than air. And […]


Increasingly, Payload’s editorial contributors and I, find ourselves writing about the migration of cargo from air to other modes. In Asia, TNT for instance, has been busy building its pan-Asian road network, specifically targeting a vast market it believes will jump at the chance to move goods faster than sea, but cheaper than air.

And others too have their eye on this multi-modal shift. DB Schenker, with its obvious European rail strength was all set to launch its unique China to Europe rail cargo product, until the global economy went belly-up. The nascent trend was already established prior to the downturn, spurred on in part, by the increasing efficiency of supply chains and other modes of transport, like the liner shipping industry. And to be certain, the crisis has given the multi-modal concept a swift kick forward.

All of this is certainly not good news for an air cargo industry, struggling to stay aloft. But not everyone views the developments with the same trepidation. Dubai, for instance, with its port and upcoming cargo megacity are actively pitching the air/sea option as part of their competitive advantage, as is MASkargo in Malaysia. And speakers at the recent air cargo conference in Shenzhen suggested a similar strategy to compete with Hong Kong.