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Air Cargo Soars On China Growth

GENEVA — Driven by the Chinese economy, growth in air cargo volume in the Asia-Pacific region is forecast to expand by an average of 7 percent annually between 2005 and 2008 compared with the projected global increase of 6 percent, according to...

GENEVA — Driven by the Chinese economy, growth in air cargo volume in the Asia-Pacific region is forecast to expand by an average of 7 percent annually between 2005 and 2008 compared with the projected global increase of 6 percent, according to the International Air Transport Association.

“The Asia-Pacific freight markets will continue to be driven by the booming Chinese economy and its increasing role as the engine of growth in the region,” the group said in its latest freight forecast.

The removal of quotas on Jan. 1 and the liberalization of the global apparel market also are likely to contribute to an increase in shipments hauled by air from major hubs in the region, such as Shanghai and Hong Kong.

The rapid globalization of the world economy, spurred by the advent of just-in-time production, has helped boost air freight activity, the report said. While the high cost of air freight, which can exceed the cost of sea freight sixfold, makes it less commonly used in the apparel industry, importers sometimes turn to shipping by air when they’re chasing fashion orders or are otherwise pressed for time.

Giovanni Busangani, IATA director general, told reporters at a news conference last month that a move to paperless transactions could cut world cargo costs by $1 billion a year.

In 2003, 21.4 million tons of cargo were hauled by air worldwide, of which 10.8 million tons were carried by all-cargo flights. Moreover, this year, freight will increase by 10.1 percent to 24.5 million tons.

David Turnbull, chief executive officer of Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific, said, “The expansion of the Chinese market will likely do more to remodel the aviation industry landscape than low-cost carriers.”

He noted that cargo today accounts for about a third of Asian carriers’ revenue streams.