Clearing the corner

The industry clearly ‘appears’ to be turning the corner on the disaster named ‘2009’, but like a freight train, some carriers are further out ahead with others still making the corner and some yet to turn. But what is interesting to watch is just how the different players come through after making that turn. Some […]


The industry clearly ‘appears’ to be turning the corner on the disaster named ‘2009’, but like a freight train, some carriers are further out ahead with others still making the corner and some yet to turn. But what is interesting to watch is just how the different players come through after making that turn. Some come out looking much worse for the wear, whereas others like Lufthansa (the subject of this issue’s cover story) are emerging smelling like proverbial roses.

Clearly this traumatic experience will help separate the ‘boys from the men’, as the saying goes and we’ll see what this all means for the industry going forward. It’s interesting to see also, the differentiation in recovery between the air and ocean freight industries. Air is always the first mover, so it’s natural to expect a lag before the shipping lines experience a full recovery. Interestingly enough, global ocean container rates have been falling, an apparent counter to any recovery. The theory is that in order to retain business following the end of the peak season, shipping lines have begun slashing rates, a foible of not only the air cargo industry apparently.

For now the air cargo industry seems to have little to fear from the competitive threat of ocean shipping, which has been an ongoing concern for a number of years, whether truly warranted or not, it’s not clear. But the recently released survey of air cargo executives by consultancy firm Oliver Wyman raises this issue saying customer buying preferences and patterns have permanently shifted, as a result of the global economic crisis last year.