Change when change is needed

Facing a serious set of challenges, the general air cargo sector needs to take a leaf out of FedEx’s playbook and change – and that change includes a rebalancing of capacity with less dedicated freighter capacity says David Cunningham, FedEx Express president for Asia Pacific. By Donald Urquhart in Hong Kong.

Change when change is needed

The air express veteran who has been with the US giant for over 30 years, 20 of which he has spent in Hong Kong, gave his take, at the recent Cargo Facts Asia conference in Hong Kong, on the changing nature of the air cargo industry and what it needs to do to become more sustainable.

It is an industry that has become a “tremendous value creator for the globe,” he highlights, noting that it has a global market size of US$78 billion, creates 32 million jobs and generates $3.5 trillion in economic activity. “And of course Asia is at the heart of it, with a 40 per cent share of that market,” he adds.

Looking back, Cunningham notes that while some of the core commodities shipped 30 years ago remain, they have fundamentally changed over the decades. Electronics were a key commodity back then, but not quite the same as today – they were big and they were expensive.

The high tech world was driven by Japanese manufacturers with some assembly in Southeast Asia. Over the last 15 to 20 years this has shifted to China, “which has really been the heart of the manufacturing,” during this time he says.