Hong Kong: United States aerospace giant Boeing Co expects global air cargo traffic to return to growth next year amid a broad economic recovery, with the US and China leading the way, a senior executive said on Wednesday.
Air cargo growth typically leads economic and passenger traffic growth by 3-6 months, Jim Edgar, Boeing’s regional director, cargo marketing, said at the Asian Aerospace Expo in Hong Kong.
“This year, we’re anticipating a deeper decline and it’ll be the first time in history that we’ll have two years of decline back to back,” Edgar said, referring to worldwide cargo traffic.
“The decline is slowing ... things are improving and we’re hopeful, but there’s a way to go yet,” he said, adding that near-term certainties include the global economy, oil prices and the stability of financial institutions.
Generous stimulus packages from governments will prop up the global economy, Edgar said.
“We expect the US and China to lead the worldwide recovery, followed by the EU, UK and Japan,” he said.
Air freight, a leading indicator of the health of world trade, is picking up slowly, but is still down on last year and the upturn remains fragile, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said last week.
Airlines carried 11.3% less cargo in July than a year earlier, according to IATA data.
Boeing, like its European rival, EADS’ Airbus unit, has had a difficult year as carriers and air cargo operators have seen less business during the global recession.
The road to recovery for the airline industry still looks bumpy for the current second half, said Randy Tinseth, vice-president of marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
“We’re going into the worst part of the year — it’ll be a pretty tough next 4-6 months,” Tinseth said. “But in 2010, there’ll be a bounce back in traffic.”
On Tuesday, Airbus said it was seeing signs of recovery in freight demand and expects a recovery in total passenger traffic volume by 2010.
Airbus and Boeing are headed for their worst annual order tally in at least 15 years as struggling airlines cancel or defer almost as many planes as they are buying.
The world’s airlines are expected to post 2009 losses of $9 billion, with first-half net losses hitting at least $6 billion, IATA has said.