According to Chinese news sources, cargo airlines have been incurring losses over the past decade with the exception of 2010, the year when the Shanghai World Expo was held. However, the rise of the e-commerce market has brought about some hope within the industry, with China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines looking to tap into the market.
Zhejiang province has been a traditional stronghold for China Eastern but now China Southern is eyeing the market in the provincial capital Hangzhou.
A survey conducted by China Southern revealed that the value of exports from Zhejiang to the United States reached 42.11 billion yuan (US$6.91 billion) in 2012, up 8.55 per cent year-on-year.
A representative from China Southern said that the e-commerce economy in Zhejiang had been growing ahead of other provinces and export orders that stemmed from the online market had been gradually rising. Given the rapid development of international trade on e-commerce platforms, the outlook for the international airfreight market in Zhejiang had become buoyant, they pointed out.
With China Southern launching non-stop cargo flights to the United States, China Eastern will still continue its all-cargo flights to Shanghai. However, Li Mingshu, manager of the cargo division at China Eastern Zhejiang, was quoted in the news reports as saying that the company did not see China Southern as a threat to the company’s cargo business in the province as its cargo business still outpaced the other company. Li further noted that the e-commerce market would remain an important focus area next year in terms of business expansion for China Cargo Airlines.