Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Alarm bells for international cargo

By Kevin Done
Published: January 14 2009 02:00
Financial Times

Alarm bells are ringing for aircraft manufacturers.

The rows of parked aircraft around the world have been growing inexorably as airlines have been forced to cut capacity: first in response to surging fuel prices and now to recession.

The forecasts for both passenger and air cargo demand are grim. "The dire state of the world's economy is the biggest challenge our industry has ever had to face," says Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways.

The most recent data from Iata, the international airline association, showed a 4.6 per cent drop year on year in international passenger traffic in November and a 13.5 per cent fall in international cargo.

"The 13.5 per cent drop in international cargo is shocking," says Giovanni Bisignani, Iata director-general. "As air cargo handles 35 per cent of the value of goods traded internationally, it clearly shows the rapid fall in global trade and the broadening impact of the economic slowdown."

It is the biggest fall since 2001, after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US. "The industry is now shrinking by all measures. It is back in intensive care," says Mr Bisignani.

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