Air freight growth is a 'permanent shift' post-pandemic, chief of air transport body says

Tue 19 Oct 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

IATA director general Willie Walsh has predicted that the growth in air cargo during the pandemic will be “a permanent shift” and change the aviation industry for good.

Speaking at the World Cargo Symposium in Dublin, Walsh said that with cargo currently worth around a third of airline revenues compared to 12% in the past, fleet and network decisions would be shared between cargo and passenger considerations going forward.

Walsh added that cargo had been taken for granted by airlines and government, the Loadstar reports, but airlines had to pivot quickly during the pandemic.

Overnight switch

“There was very little analysis done, we had to do it overnight. We used to look at the incremental cost of carrying cargo – but that changed to the incremental cost of adding passengers, such as cabin crew and catering,” he said.

As covered in the IOE&IT Daily Update, some companies are looking at taking charge of their own airfreight.

Bloomberg reports that JD Logistics, the logistics arm of Chinese e-commerce giant, is following suit and aims to have “no fewer than 100 planes” by 2030.

The company has previously chartered planes but has gained approval from the Civil Aviation Administration of China to operate its own air freight operation. 

New airfreight index

Online market Freightos has launched a pricing index for airfreight as the sector has become more volatile due to increased demand this year due to ocean shipping delays, reports Freightwaves.

Freightos pointed to air cargo spot prices from Frankfurt, Germany, to Shanghai rising by 2.2 times in the past three months to $3.53 per kilogram.

The air index, which is in beta phase, provides price details across various trade lanes, two weight classes, and origin/destination airports. It will be published on Sundays with data from the prior week.

It is initially offering the service for free but will charge for a more advanced version at some point.