China’s spectacular manufacturing growth has left air freight carriers scrambling to develop their activities in the country. But it could be a case of too much, too soon.
Two years ago, flying goods from Nanjing or Shanghai to Europe cost up to $4 a kilogramme; today it the price is about $2.50. “Very few carriers are still making money here,’’ says Xu Yong, vice-president of Nanjing airport.
As fleet expansion continues to outpace demand, carriers are adding to congestion problems at some Chinese airports. “We have just far too many planes now”Mr Xu warns.
荷兰航空公司Martinair副总裁弗兰克?德容(Frank de Jong)表示，中国空运货物出口量正以每年约10%的速度增长，而飞机货物运力的增幅约为25%。
Frank de Jong, vice-president at Martinair, the Dutch carrier, says the volume of Chinese exports by air is growing by about 10 per cent a year but aircraft cargo capacity is rising by about 25 per cent.
In Asia, about half of cargo transported is carried in the belly of regular passenger flights. Korean Airlines, for example, has the world’s largest cargo business among passenger airlines, with 28 per cent of its revenue coming from air freight.
In the US, the bulk of air cargo is handled by the specialist freight industry, led by UPS and FedEx. The Chinese government has recently granted greater access to the two companies.
瑞士信贷(Credit Suisse)分析师彼得?希尔顿(Peter Hilton)表示：“美国公司可以向中国体系内注入更多运力，并承接向来由亚洲航空公司包揽的货运业务。”
Peter Hilton, analyst at Credit Suisse, says: “The Americans are being allowed to inject more capacity into the Chinese system and moving goods that would have traditionally gone to Asian carriers.”
Beijing has stepped up its efforts to develop a domestic air freight industry, encouraging its airlines to team up with more experienced Western cargo operators. Until recently, the Chinese government had instead focused almost exclusively on overhauling and expanding the passenger airline industry.
A Hong Kong banker says: “Politically, there’s a lot more prestige in helping move people rather than goods, but the government has woken up to how crucial freight is for an export-led manufacturing sector.”