With 2017 now in the history books, we take a look at the stories that drew the most attention from our readers in a year that turned out to be one of the best ever for our industry.
Despite the ever-increasing demand for air freight over the last two years, orders for new-build freighters have been scarce. So when 2017 started with several orders for Boeing freighters, people paid attention.
But the good news above was soon followed by bad. Boeing might have booked a few new orders, but this was soon followed by the announcement that Nippon Cargo Airlines had cancelled its remaining 747-8F orders.
E-commmerce has been a big factor in the growth in demand for air freight, and when Amazon announce the move of its Prime Air hub from Wilmington (ILN) to Cincinnati (CVG) the question on everyone’s mind was: “How do you run a sort operation without a physical facility?” The answer, as it turned out, was that Amazon would team up with DHL until its own facility was built.
It has been no secret that the big Chinese express companies were looking at international shipments as their next big move. Buying space on commercial flights was part of the plan, but everyone knew that, sooner or later, companies like SF Express and YTO Express would want their own long-haul fleets. It was SF that made the first move — but in a way that no one could have expected.
With ATSG and Atlas approaching completion of their agreements to provide twenty 767 freighters each for Amazon, many people wondered if demand for 767 conversions would die off. In fact, there has been no slacking in demand and Boeing and Bedek are still doing a great business with their 767-300BCF and -300BDSF conversion programs.
Our annual analysis of the previous year’s top 50 air cargo carriers is always popular. One of the reasons is that we go behind the readily available lists, and take a very close look at the data. Are some carriers missing? If so, we tack them down. Are some carriers actually part of a larger group? If so, we show aggregate numbers for the whole group.
While we know that our analyses of the world’s top cargo carriers and top cargo airports are going to be popular, we were surprised by your interest in our listing of the world’s top air freight forwarders. On reflection, perhaps we should not have been surprised, because, with the rise of the new online booking platforms, and forwarders like Flexport, the forwarding industry is in the midst of rapid change.
The massive interest in this post was the biggest surprise of the year for us. Not that the content wasn’t both interesting and important, but the title wasn’t exactly catchy. Still when Jack Ma speaks, the world listens, and in this case the Alibaba founder and Executive Chairman was speaking about his vision of a world without barriers to cross-border e-commerce. Or, as Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang put it, “a future of frictionless, borderless e-commerce.”
As is the case with our analysis of the world’s top cargo carriers, we probe deeply into the data behind the usual “Top howevermany” lists. Why? Because saying “Hong Kong International was the top cargo airport and Memphis was second” really doesn’t mean much on its own. We want to know what the data can tell us about trade flows. We also want to know how cities and regions stack up, not just individual airports.
It’s no secret that the global growth of e-commerce is driving demand for air freight, and Amazon’s decision to build up a fleet of its own was the big news in late 2015/early 2016. And when rumors surfaced in early 2017 that Amazon might be contemplating a huge order for more freighters, the Cargo Facts website really lit up.