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Forecast: Sunny for golf, cloudy for business

By Hpanchal on May 7, 2013

The return of the Dreamliner to the skies in several weeks is a reason for optimism, Anderson says.

“Something we're really looking forward to in cargo is getting the 787 Dreamliner back in the skies,” he says. “Boeing and the [Federal Aviation Administration] have worked together to resolve the battery issue experienced by some other carriers, so we're planning to resume 787 flights in the domestic U.S. beginning May 31, and we plan to launch our new 787 route between Denver and Tokyo Narita [International Airport] on June 10.”

Jan Krems, vice president Americas for Air France/KLM/Martinair Cargo, says business conditions are not good.

“We have the same volume as last year,” Krems says. “There is overcapacity in the market. Some areas of South America remain strong, but other markets are very tough. Rates are the lowest I have every seen. There are 540 freighters in the world, the highest number ever. I don’t see the next four our five months being better, but at the end of the year I am more optimistic. It’s very tough right now.”

Krems says that while the pharmaceutical sector is doing OK, shipments are getting smaller, which he translates as a shift to oceanfreight.

Andreas Boppart, manager cargo global accounts for Emirates, describes conditions as challenging, but he has a positive outlook.

“Our flights tend to be quite full,” Boppart says.

The major issues for Emirates is the slowdown in China’s economy, but he sees business picking up in India and Asia overall.

John Batten, executive vice president for cargo at Swissport International, says he is usually confident about the industry, but not so this year.

“Our volumes, if you strip out the new business, the underlying trend is going backward,” Batten says. “I am not optimistic at all for this year. It will be an OK year, but not an outstanding year nor a year we will talk about next year. It’s pretty poor, really.”

Batten says he has looked for areas that might produce optimism, but he hasn’t found any.

“Japan should be growing, but it isn’t. Korea should be growing and everyone hypes up Korea, but nothing is happening,” he says. “The U.S. economy is down and Europe is struggling. I don’t think conditions are good anywhere. It’s pretty poor for everyone. We have gained some market share in the U.S., but if we strip that out, it’s going backwards. It’s a worrying trend.”

So is the downturn part of a cycle or a permanent shift? Batten is unsure, but he fears the industry is changing permanently.

“I’d like to think it’s still a cycle, but if we have a bad year this year, that I fear it’s a change,” he says. “I sound very pessimistic, but the industry has changed over the last five years.”

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