FlyingTypers Logo
   Vol. 17 No. 39
Thursday June 28, 2018

     As deadline day draws near in the on-off trade war dance between the United States and China, forwarders and airlines are now making strategic preparations for potential spikes in demand.
     They are also preparing for the possibility that demand could drop off thereafter on the China to U.S. lane, and that Chinese production for the U.S. market could quickly shift to Chinese factories located in neighboring Asian countries to avoid tariffs.

The Urge To Surge

     United States President Donald Trump said earlier this month that the U.S. would slap 25 percent tariffs on US$50 billion worth of Chinese goods, with the first wave covering 818 products worth US$34 billion taking effect on July 6.
     Brandon Fried, Executive Director of Washington-based The Airforwarders Association, said a surge in demand was likely ahead of the deadline.
     “There may well be a spike in air cargo as the July 6th tariff imposition deadline nears and importers bringing goods into the U.S. from China hope to beat the increased taxes on those goods,” he told FlyingTypers.
     “While air cargo provides faster service and hence more time value, the mode tends to cost more so companies will need to decide whether paying taxes or the higher freight expenses works best.
     “The same may happen when the announced tariffs between the U.S. and Europe take effect.
     “Now is the perfect time for forwarders to meet with their customers to help provide creative options for those seeking a better understanding of how the looming tariffs may affect their upcoming shipments.”

Seeking Alterative Routes

     Heeding Fried, that is exactly what service providers contacted by FlyingTypers are doing.      Although a number of Chinese airlines contacted by FlyingTypers refused to comment, a spokesperson for Japanese carrier ANA said the airline was currently examining what the tariffs might mean for freight demand, with some expectation that cargo heading for the U.S. will increasingly be produced and shipped from regional alternatives in Asia to avoid the tariffs.
     “Should the freight demand between China and the U.S. slow down due to the U.S. tariffs on China, we will be focusing on boosting the demand from Japan and South/East Asia to the U.S.,” said the spokesperson.
     “We are watching the market carefully.”

Last Minute Deal?

     Asked if a surge in demand was expected before the implementation of tariffs, a spokesman for Taiwan-based carrier China Airlines said there was still a lot of uncertainty over the amount and type of tariffs that China and the U.S. planned to impose, or whether negotiations could result in a last-minute stay of execution.
     “The demand for hold space from Chinese exports to the U.S. may however shift to other Asian countries due to a transfer of production lines as well,” he said.
     “Our regional and trans-Pacific capacity will be adjusted as necessary to maintain the profitability of the overall network.” (see article below).

The Forwarder View

     Forwarders in Asia are also taking steps to ensure they are prepared ahead of the July 6 deadline. Speaking in the fourth week of June, Li Wenjun, SVP and Head, Air Freight, DHL Global Forwarding Asia Pacific, said so far there had not been a surge in volume, but an increased push ahead of the deadline was a possibility.
     “What we have seen since the beginning of the year is a continued strong market to and from the United States, so we created further capacities and accessibility to our global logistics network with a second Around-the-World flight, which we launched in May,” he said. “This flight offers our customers the best-possible solutions for the strong market so far and any other increased capacities that may result in the coming weeks.”

Other Voices

Sou Ping Chee     Sou Ping Chee, (left) Regional Head of Air Freight Asia Pacific at Panalpina, related a similar tale, noting: “So far, we have not seen any production or demand shift ex-China as a result of the current tariff dispute between the U.S. and China. Most shippers are likely still watching the developments since the situation is dynamic and uncertain.”
     iContainers Vice President for Sales and Operations Klaus Lysdal (right) said any demand rush from China to the U.S. by air freight would likely be similar to a pre-holiday period spike. “The surge in demand will probably be similar to the holiday rush we get each year when you always see some importers realizing last minute that this needs to move now to get here before deadline,” he said. “So I imagine we will see some reaction with air freight and potentially some last minute activity with ocean freight on the west coast just to get here to clear customs in time.”

  “The situation is extremely complex,” says TIACA Hall of Fame recipient and former President of American Airlines Cargo Bill Boesch, “and the carriers at the most risk, in my opinion, will be the non-U.S. commercial schedule freighter operations.
  “As we all know, the U.S. does not really have any scheduled freighter airlines other than Amerijet and the integrators, who may benefit.”

DHL Impact?

  “The non-U.S. Integrators like DHL may be negatively affected as they have ACMI contracts with USA flag carriers such as Atlas, National, and Kalitta, who supply freighters with U.S. routing authority.
  “These carriers also have 5th and 6th freedom rights, so the traffic between Asia and Europe could pick up significantly utilizing their freighters as the U.S. dollar is still low, meaning that their rates would be competitive in U.S. dollars.”

Pharma Challenge

  “The major problem here is uncertainty, but the U.S. non-integrator airlines that fly freighters under ACMI contracts have protected themselves.
  “I don't see much effect for the U.S. integrators like UPS and FedEx as U.S. internal traffic should increase while the international traffic that they carry will mostly be parts, which may not be covered by these trade tariffs.
  “Pharmaceuticals are a major trade war risk for other countries, as most of the global industry is controlled by U.S. trade patents and that could have a significant effect on various countries’ ability to secure these vital drugs.”

Labor & U.S. Dollar

  “In my view, the biggest challenge for the U.S. airlines in the trade war scenario would be an increase in the value of the U.S. dollar. U.S. carriers have had to bear higher labor costs during the past 2 years.
  “A high dollar would put them at a disadvantage with the foreign carriers.
  “I think the U.S. Administration is smart enough to realize that and will continue to keep the dollar low.”

Iran & Korea

  “As I said, the complexity of this is almost overwhelming as it has multiple factors.
  “Another concern is if North Korea and Iran heats up, that might change the entire picture.”

Uncertainty over the scale and timing of the threatened U.S. and China trade war
is making the forward planning of Tranpacific freight operations increasingly complex, according to one leading carrier.
     The almost day-to-day changes in policy pronouncements from both camps have caused chaos for those strategizing supply chains. And for airlines it has been little easier than for shippers or 3PLs or caught in the cross-fire.

Taiwan On

     China Airlines told FlyingTypers that all the sabre-rattling - alongside contrary suggestions that negotiations to extinguish the putative Trade War might instead yield positive results – is making it difficult to forward plan the allocation of capacity efficiently.
     “If additional tariffs are indeed imposed this will probably impact the amount of eastwards freight being exported from China,” he explained.
     “There have been no significant fluctuations in demand for air freight across regional markets due to the trade war as yet. “China Airlines will therefore continue to monitor closely changes in market supply and demand in the US, China and Southeast Asia.

Shifting Production

     “Our regional and Transpacific capacity will be adjusted as necessary to maintain the profitability of the overall network.”
     “However,” he predicted that “should U.S. tariffs on Chinese exports be imposed as threatened, then a lot of the goods hit hardest – and the categories of cargo targeted by the U.S. are in the higher value range more likely to be flown – then demand might instead shift to alternative production centers as Chinese manufacturers simply transfer their operations. “This could see demand from Vietnam, for example, further spike.
     “The demand for hold space for Chinese exports to the U.S. may shift to other Asian countries due to a transfer of production lines as well,” he said.

Strait To The Heart

     China Airlines currently operates 14 cross-strait freight services each week to China and is key player on the Transpacific where 6% more freight was uplifted from the U.S. to Asia in the first quarter than in Q1 in 2017.

Slowly Coming Back

     “For freight from Asia to the U.S., vendor freight volumes recovered more slowly after the Lunar New Year period in Greater China this year so overall volume saw little or no growth,” he added.

Asia Still Number One

     Based on IATA's 5-year forecast for global freight growth which maintains that over 2018 - 2022 Asia-North America and Asia-Europe lanes will generate the most freight volume expansion, he said China Airlines was continuing to cultivate the U.S. market and expand its North America network.

New Destinations

     “A TPE-ONT passenger service was launched on March 25 this year with seven flights a week flown by B777,” he added.
     “A charter freighter also flew for the first time to Rickenbacker Airport (LCK) in Columbus in February this year.”
     On the Asia-Europe lane, volume growth has also been positive this year. “China Airlines' European lanes currently operate six freighter services a week and we are actively studying the feasibility of adding additional services,” he said.
     “Now that the Airbus A350-900 is in use to provide direct flights on our European passenger routes, we will continue to develop e-commerce express shipping, postal shipping, fresh produce and cold-chain cargo as well as to strengthen our cooperation with partner airlines.
     “By making full use of the A350's belly cargo we can expand our revenues.”
     While Asia to North America and Europe would be the main drivers of growth, he also said the economic outlook for Asia was favorable.
     He said, this year China Airlines plans to operate 52 freight services on regional routes in Asia as the continued economic growth of South East Asian countries was generating rising volumes in the consumer electronics, textiles and cross-border e-commerce segments.
     “China Airlines has already increased service frequency on the TPE-SIN-PEN-TPE route twice in 2017 and intra-regional cargo demand in Asia grew by 7.4% in 2017 compared to the previous year,” he added.
     “China Airlines will continue to cultivate the Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines and Thailand markets to secure north-south cargo sources within Asia.
     “We will also optimize our SE Asia cargo service destination combinations and actively study the addition of more capacity based on demand.
     “We will do all we can to support the development of SE Asia to boost our overall business performance.”

Sea Air Equation

     “China Airlines also remains committed to using sea-air logistics solutions where these make sense for customers which,” the spokesman said, “typically occurred on lanes where there was a shortage of free hold spaces or during peak seasons.
     “Cross-strait flying rights impose restrictions on destinations and number of services as well,” he explained.
     “For this reason, the growth of e-commerce cargo in recent years means there are now cargo agents that regularly organize their own sea-air links. Goods are transported by sea from China to Taipei then transferred to our flights for export of e-commerce and postal parcel sources.”

Subscription Ad

If You Missed Any Of The Previous 3 Issues Of FlyingTypers
Access complete issue by clicking on issue icon or
Access specific articles by clicking on article title
Vol. 17 No. 36
ACAS Secures Take Off
Chucles For June 19, 2018
June Rates Flat But Steady
FIATA Posh Journey To India
Vol. 17 No. 37
Utikad Forward In Turkish Logistics
Chuckles for June 21, 2018
Second Time The Charm
Show Us Your Pain, India Tells Air Cargo

Vol. 17 No. 38
Toward A Complete Blendship At AA Cargo
Chuckles for June 25, 2018
Serenade for Jessica

Publisher-Geoffrey Arend • Managing Editor-Flossie Arend • Editor Emeritus-Richard Malkin
Film Editor-Ralph Arend • Special Assignments-Sabiha Arend, Emily Arend • Advertising Sales-Judy Miller

fblogoSend comments and news to geoffrey@aircargonews.com
Opinions and comments expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher but remain solely those of the author(s).
Air Cargo News FlyingTypers reserves the right to edit all submissions for length and content. All photos and written material submitted to this publication become the property of All Cargo Media.
All Cargo Media, Publishers of Air Cargo News Digital and FlyingTypers. Copyright ©2018 ACM, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
More@ www.aircargonews.com

recycle100% Green