Japan’s air cargo sector also stressed
March 16, 2011
With the closing of three Japanese ports — Sendai, Hitachinaka and Kashima — some U.S. manufacturers and retailers may be opting for air cargo alternatives to meet shipping and sourcing deadlines. But given the high cost of fuel and institutional complications at Japan’s airports, that strategy will not work for long.
According to The International Air Transport Association (IATA) Tokyo’s airports remain 75 percent more expensive than Seoul (Incheon) and more than double the cost of Singapore (Changi).
IATA has urged Japan to develop a more effective airport policy in Tokyo, a level playing field with more open markets for airlines to compete, and an approach to climate change commitments that includes sustainable biofuels.
Prior to last week’s earthquake, IATA said that Japanese international air cargo was expected to grow from 2.7 million tons (2009) to 4.4 million tons (2014). This 10.2 percent average annual growth exceeds the world average of 8.2 percent. The forecast also said that in 2014, Japan would be the fourth largest international freight market behind the United States (8.8 million tons), Hong Kong (5.4 million tons) and Germany (4.4 million tons).
All that should change soon, however, as the full impact of the catastrophe on the supply chain has yet to be measured.
The Air Forwarders Association in Washington, DC is conducting a survey among Board members today to determine if a significant shift from ocean to air is underway.
According to AFA’s executive director, Brandon Fried, the situation is made worse by the escalating fuel prices:
“One airline told me that due to a lack of fuel, they were carrying extra loads into NRT and making technical stops coming back,” he said.
IATA, meanwhile, is due to publish monthly air freight and passenger traffic data for February on March 29.
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