cargo Cargo Supermarket invited the views of five leading and highly respected specialists: Justin Lancaster
Group Commercial Director, Air Charter Service
Chairman, Baltic Air Charter Association
CEO of Chapman Freeborn Airchartering
Head of Corporate Charter & Emergency Services, Panalpina Air & Ocean
Vice President Sales, Ruslan International
How was the air cargo charter market for you in 2013 and what were the main challenges and opportunities that arose during the year?
Robert: In 2013, Panalpina did more charter flights than in previous years. Now we are busy with more oil and gas projects after a long phase of preparations. This will continue in 2014. Overall, air freight, commercial and charter, remains a difficult market where rates are under heavy pressure.
Justin: Being a global organisation there will always be challenges in certain parts of the world which affect different offices. Certain parts of Europe presented difficult trading conditions but on the flip side of that most other regions grew significantly. Much of this is driven by the general economics of each region, so it follows that you have to grab opportunities in parts of the world where growth is seen or forecast, and I think ACS achieved that in 2013.
‘ ... a lot of expectations did not transpire on the fast shrinking military segment and this created a lot of disappointment among all the key players. And at the same time, this created much greater urgency to diversify and come up with more creative solutions to prosper in such a highly volative market.’
Russi: 2013 started and ended well for the market as a whole. The ad hoc market took a dive in the middle and quite literally came to a halt for a period of time. It’s difficult to understand exactly why this happened but it did! The slowdown came unexpectedly and we certainly used the time and opportunity to look closely at our structure and plans going forward.
Tony: The charter market seemed quite flat as indeed was scheduled cargo. The usual areas continued to show promise; Central and South America, Asia and indeed East and West Africa. The usual Oil and Gas developments continue to provide good opportunities for operators as new fields are found and developed. The traditional seasonal markets of flowers, fruit and vegetables are being fed into the scheduled airlines’ systems much more, so the traditional charters from East and South Africa, Central and South America are now much less frequent. Exports from China were down and even scheduled carriers struggled to fill capacity.
Dmitry: 2013 was a challenging year. It would be true to say that lots of expectations did not transpire on the fast shrinking military segment and this created a lot of disappointment among all the key players. And at the
same time, this created much greater urgency to diversify and come up with more creative solutions to prosper in such a highly volatile market. Among the opportunities, I believe Oil and Gas and Aerospace were two of the strongest growing segments that kept us busy last year. Lower flying hours kept aircraft sitting longer and waiting for return loads, but at the same time low flight hours opened opportunities for combining flights which helped to push yields up. For many years when the intensity of flights was high, we did not have time to sit and wait for the return load if we had another job waiting for us somewhere else –thus burning lots of ferry hours. So in effect I can say that the market returned to the normal pre-2001 state where you had to work hard to find front and backloads and had spare capacity waiting in the region for the right load to come back home.
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