Late start to Asian peak

The peak season in Asia has started less strongly than expected, according to Jean-Charles Foucault, senior vice-president sales and distribution for Air France-KLM. “We are all very dependent on Asia, and there we see the peak not booming yet, especially in the two key markets of China and Hong Kong,” he says.

Charter requests have also largely dried up. “We saw quite a lot before the summer, but now they are not there anymore,” Foucault says. He admits that one reason for this could be that Asian carriers have switched capacity to European routes due to a softening in the transpacific market.

Outside of Asia – for example in the US – markets are more stable, but Foucault notes that there are few new hi-tech products to drive air freight demand, and says the fashion business is “only so-so”.

Michael Wisbrun, chairman of Air France-KLM Cargo, also strikes a downbeat note, saying the market remains “volatile and uncertain”, something he expects to continue. For this reason, Air France-KLM is continuing to take a cautious stance on freighter capacity, with no plans to expand its current fleet, and an emphasis on belly capacity growth in the coming year.

Wisbrun even admits that the current total of 14 operational freighters is now “an internal cap” set by the Air France-KLM Group, which will not be increased until returns improve. “Yields are not yet at a decent enough level to continue investments,” he says.

For a full version of this story please see the 18 October issue of Air Cargo News.

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