Atlas Air expects China demand surge over coming weeks

By Damian Brett

Atlas Air Worldwide is expecting a surge in cargo over the coming weeks as Chinese factories continue to return to full operation following the extended Chinese New Year holiday closure.

Speaking shortly after announcing its fourth quarter results, chairman and chief executive John Dietrich said that the group was getting a “lot of calls from some very experienced and knowledgeable shippers, freight forwarders and brokers”.

Factories in China remained closed for an extended period after the Chinese New Year break in order to help contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Meanwhile, passenger carriers operating to China have cut capacity as demand has weakened.

Dietrich said that Atlas is well positioned to take advantage of any surge in demand.

He said: “Significantly, we worked together with the union to enter into a memorandum of understanding.

“We are taking volunteers for any flying in and out of China and, working together with the union, we have implemented some programmes, such as premium pay, for those segments into and out of China.

“We have been working very cooperatively with the pilots and the entire team and the union leadership. So my shout out to them.”

He added: “There have been some cancellations in the interim period, but also those voids have been picked up by some of the charter activity, which we expect to continue, if not accelerate, when the surge happens.”

He expects the surge to continue even once passenger airlines start bringing capacity back into the market.

“Even when the commercial belly capacity comes in to the marketplace, there is still going to be a tremendous amount of demand given the significant setback that manufacturing has experienced.

“And it’s not going to change overnight, when some of the commercial carriers resume service and looking ahead, I don’t have all of the dates, but some of the commercial carriers have pushed into April before they’ll resume service

“So you’re talking about that period of time before it even returns and that pent-up demand potentially building which favours maindeck freighters.”

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