The golden age of freight airlines — is it over?

“The golden age of freight airlines is over.”

So said Cargolux CFO Richard Forson in an interview in Luxembourg news outlet The remark came in the discussion of the carrier’s first-half results, which, while not particularly good, were also not particularly bad. Mr. Forson said that despite a 15% increase in Cargolux’s tonnage in the half, revenue was up just 4% – falling short of target by US$11 million. However, he said the new Luxembourg-Zhengzhou service, which many observers had expected to be a money-loser, has developed better than expected and is delivering positive results (although he did not provide any financial details).

Looking ahead, he was relatively positive, pointing to the expected good peak season, 7% GDP growth in China in 2014, and good prospects in the rest of Asia. On the downside, he noted increasing competition from Middle East-based carriers, and also from the belly capacity offered by the new generation of widebody passenger aircraft.

It was this latter development that inspired his comment that the golden age, “when freight airlines made money by the bucket-load,” is over. There have certainly been times when all-cargo carriers have made reasonable profits, but Cargo Facts is not aware of a “golden age” when they made money “by the bucket-load.”

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