China Southern Cargo has commenced five-times-weekly Boeing 747-400F service from its Shanghai Pudong International Airport hub to Osaka’s Kansai International Airport. The launch of service, which marks China Southern’s first dedicated Asian freight route, precedes reports of declining cargo volumes in the Asia-Pacific.
In a press release, China Southern called Osaka — Japan’s second largest city — a key market for growth. “It is known that Sino-Japan has been always the golden route of the air cargo market,” according to the press release. “The trade volume is big and it builds a strong economic base and market demand.”
The Pudong-Osaka-Pudong route, which is likely to be inundated with electronics and other high-value goods, boosts China Southern’s weekly freight capacity to Japan by 500 tonnes. Once the freight arrives to Osaka, it will then be trucked to nearby Tokyo, Nagoya, Fukuoka and Sendai, according to the press release.
Despite this new service, airfreight markets in the Asia-Pacific remain sluggish, Association of Asia Pacific Airlines data revealed. Freight volumes fell 5.1 percent, year-over-year, in the Asia-Pacific in July, amid a 5 percent, year-over-year, capacity decline. The region’s freight load factor, which totaled 67.2 percent in July, was flat, year-over-year.
AAPA Director General Andrew Herdman said these figures “reflect continued weakness in key export markets.”
At Narita International Airport, officials saw 162,358 tonnes of activity pass through the airport in July, a significant drop in tonnage from the same period last year, according to figures recently released by the airport. Herdman’s findings of export weakness seem to be true at the airport, as export cargo accounted for 49,470 tonnes of the total, making July the second slowest month for exports at Narita in 2012. Exports peaked in March with 62,228 tonnes; March also stands as Narita’s busiest cargo month so far in 2012. Total cargo at Narita for the first seven months of the year is nearly 1.3 million tonnes.