For once, in this column, it would be edifying to have something
positive upon which to comment. Looking back over past issues,
the common thread appears to be one of negativity: cargo
volumes down, carriers failing, paperwork still fluttering in the breeze
and a sector seemingly impervious to the benefits of innovation,
such as the breakthroughs of digitalisation and blockchain.
It’s enough to make a writer despair.
So, for this April issue, has the Editor managed to come up with
some material that throws a more favourable light on the sector?
On the face of it, that’s doubtful. With an Asian virus still raging
and making inroads left, right and centre, it’s difficult not to feel
the ramifications. Stock markets in the US have taken a tumble, as
Americans anticipate the worst; IATA has chipped in with its warning
forecast of decreasing flight schedules, which will certainly dent the
industry’s profitability; and there’s the backlog of freight in China to
consider, something that has been building up in the wake of a selfimposed,
extended Chinese New Year.
In a market faced with these challenges, one would assume that
the charter business, that specialist niche, has been riding the
metaphorical wave, given the problems now being experienced by
the scheduled supply chain. But strangely this has not been the
case. Charter work, according to one respondent, has been in the
doldrums since last summer. Demand has been present but not
as high as anticipated – the Sino/US debacle has been to blame in
part. Although there are (finally) signs of a thaw in that particular
relationship, the unpredictable path of COVID-19 seems set to
extend this market uncertainty, albeit in other regions.
On the bright side, the virus situation has been stabilising in
China, which will surely unleash a pent-up demand and should thus
help the charter air cargo business. This, though, one suspects, will
come as scant comfort to CargoLogicAir and Air Cargo Global, both
of which closed their hatches for the last time in February.
Alwyn Brice, Managing Editor
ALI comes from the
same team responsible
for the well-established
titles of Ground Handling
International and Ramp
Equipment News. As
such, it builds on over
20 years of industry
experience and, with
a comprehensive and
skilled team of writers
based in both Europe
and the US, aims to bring
the reader up to date
with the world of air
4 April 2020 www.airlogisticsinternational.com