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Tough times for nation's airfreight industry

Updated: 2013-10-30 07:33
By Wang Wen ( China Daily)

China's airfreight industry has been suffering since the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008, although the industry showed some signs of improvement in demand during the first eight months of the year.

Global demand began increasing slowly in April, in line with strengthening business confidence, according to a report from the International Air Transport Association.

But airlines in the Asia Pacific region "have not seen any improvement in demand, and in fact have experienced a 1.9 percent contraction in freight ton-kilometers during the first eight months of 2013", IATA said.

Domestic airlines are trying to find ways to address the situation.

Liu Jian, manager of the cargo business department at the Dalian branch of China Southern Airlines Co Ltd, recently visited some cities between Dalian, Liaoning province, and Guangzhou, Guangdong province, to look for more transfer points for his company's cargo flights.

"Connecting flights can take more goods, as each route will be shorter, meaning that less fuel has to be carried," Liu said.

China Southern Airlines, which transports 70 percent of the seafood originating in Dalian, carried only 4,259 tons of seafood in the first half year of the year, 1,000 tons less than in the same period of 2012.

"The lost income from the 1,000 tons of seafood possibly represents 5 percent of the branch's total cargo income in the whole year," said Liu.

The limited capacity of airfreight planes is one of the reasons for the reduction, he added, and having more connecting flights could be a solution.

The sluggishness seen in emerging markets, especially the deceleration of China's growth in the first half of the year, is the reason behind the carriers' lackluster performance.

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