It’s not been a good year for air cargo carriers. The once exuberant Middle Eastern airlines are looking at having too many freighters but are so scared of cutting service fleets and loosing market share to predatory competition, they won’t cut aircraft numbers.
Qatar is a slightly different situation as its expanded its air freighter capacity to meet the needs of the blockade, although there have been signs it might, finally, be thawing a little after a recent meeting of foreign ministers.
Cathay Pacific has slashed its freight rates across all of its groups airlines, Cathay Pacific Cargo, Air Hong Kong, Cathay Dragon and Hong Kong Express. The airport is subsidising the cut as it struggles to bring back trade to the city, the protests now going largely unreported but still continuing. The shock of the overwhelming support in local elections for the democracy movement seems to have calmed things down.
Meanwhile, other than the express freight operators, whose busiest time of year is upon them, general cargo is declining anything from 2 to 8% globally depending on where you are and what freight you carry. There’s no doubt that Trumps tariffs are badly affecting the level of trade to and from North America to China. Neither side has gained anything and air cargo operators are suffering.
Some time early in the new year, especially if January is even worse than the poor predictions suggest, February-March will be upset further by Chinese New Year, you can expect to see one or more sizeable cargo airlines fail – and I’ve even heard rumours of one major passenger airline withdrawing from having its own freighters completely.