There is a rather downbeat air in European air cargo as the continent's carriers watch a new wave of freighter operators eat into their traditional market share on Europe to Asia routes.
The consensus of various industry experts is that some 1,000 to 1,500 tons of capacity has been added on China-Europe routes in recent months, mainly from Chinese and Middle Eastern carriers.
The carriers involved include Jade Cargo International, using its third freighter to fly from Shenzhen to Leizpig and Stockholm; Yangtze River Express starting a four times a week service from Shanghai to Luxembourg; and Great Wall Airlines, boosting its newly resumed services to Amsterdam from six to 10 weekly.
European carriers are also adding capacity. TNT now flies three times a week from LiÃƒÂ¨ge in Belgium to Shanghai, and Italy's Cargoitalia and Ocean Airlines are ramping up services to China. But there is little doubt that the European majors are feeling beleaguered.
"In the short term, we cannot deny that all the European carriers, including Air France-KLM, are faced with a new balance of capacity," says Michael Wisbrun, chairman of the joint cargo management committee of the Franco-Dutch airline. "If you look at the manufacturing orders and aircraft conversions, there is also no doubt that the drive of capacity is coming mainly from Asia."
All this is worrying for Europe's carriers because cargo out of Asia, China particularly, has been the honey pot for them in recent years--abundant, high-yield traffic driving their growth and profitability. If that market is eaten away by what European cargo managers have taken to dubbing low-cost Chinese competition, then the prospects could be worrisome.
Source: Air Cargo World, http://aircargoworld.com
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