Guarded optimism at the Cargo Facts Symposium

Aviation industry executives from all over the world met this week for the 18th annual Cargo Facts Aircraft Symposium, which returned once again to the popular Loew’s Miami Beach Hotel. The event was highly successful, and the overall mood was surprisingly upbeat given the challenges facing the industry.

Six panels during the conference, plus a pre-conference ACMG Workshop, addressed a wide range of topics including “Seeking Solutions to the Air Freight Dilemma” and “The Shifting Market for Freighter Aircraft.”  Speakers noted some positive signs in traffic volumes, especially in the auto parts, perishables and pharma sectors, although yields remain under pressure due to an oversupply of capacity. There was no expectation of much of a peak season spike in demand this year, but rather a general feeling that the situation was not as bad as many people feared it might be. That is, while real recovery was still some way off, demand had begun to improve.

Another subject addressed was the question of what impact the proliferation of belly space offered by carriers with extensive passenger networks would have on the main-deck freight business. Here again, the general sentiment was that fears of an imminent end to freighter operations are overblown. While some business may move from freighters to passenger bellies, freighters are definitely needed to meet the service and quality standards many shippers require. Further, although production freighter backlogs remain high, there is still a place for existing models. As one speaker noted, not all routes need the biggest or latest freighter types; or, as another said: “there is no death-knell for the 747-400BCF.”

Perhaps the best way to express the mood in Miami was that “doom and gloom” has been replaced by “guarded optimism.” Those of you who are interested in seeing how far the green shoots that are sprouting now have grown by next spring should plan to attend our second annual Cargo Facts Asia event  which will take place in Hong Kong, April 16-17, 2013.  Click here for more information.


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