During a roundtable panel discussion at the 8th annual Cargo Facts Asia symposium held earlier this month in Shanghai, executives from Atlas Air and YTO Express discussed the most pressing bottlenecks to growth of the Asia-Pacific air cargo market and freighter fleet.
Although airport slot shortages are certainly an issue, limited widebody freighter capacity could pose an even bigger issue. “In terms of large freighters, those 85+ tonnes and above, there are currently only 395 in operation. Many of these will retire as they get beyond 30 years old,” said Alvin Tay, VP Sales & Marketing, Asia Pacific, Atlas Air Worldwide. Based on current order backlogs for production widebody freighters, many of these are going into express fleets. “Even securing a large freighter will be a challenge,” said Tay.
For YTO Airlines, however, slot constraints remain as the single most pressing obstacle to expansion, according to David Su, Chairman, YTO Cargo Airlines. Within China, YTO has been unable to secure rights to major airports in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. The situation does not improve much as the carrier looks outward, beyond China to crowded airports in Germany or the Netherlands, which Su finds “troubling.”
In an attempt to mitigate the slot allocation issue, Chinese express companies are looking to airports elsewhere to develop their air hubs. YTO, for its part, is in the process of converting a 96-hectare plot of land at Jiaxing Airport (JXS), 100km East of Shanghai, into an aviation logistics hub. Similarly, in 2016, SF Express announced plans to develop a greenfield site in the central-Chinese city of Ezhou (near the provincial capital, Wuhan) into what it believes could become the world’s fourth busiest cargo airport by 2045.
Check out highlights from the discussion below, which is part of a special video series sponsored by ATR.