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Editor's note – December 2014

Finally, a year to shout about. Not too loudly though, we don’t want to jinx it. But there’s definitely a spring in the step of many airline executives and freight forwarders.

Yes, it’s not perfect: yields, while better, are still not good; overcapacity, particularly around the Middle East and Europe, is here to stay; and, some carriers argue, more freighters still need to leave the market. 


Despite all this, growth for the year is expected to hover between 4 and 4.5% – with something of a ‘peak’ season. High-tech has fuelled the market, sending – according to Seabury (see here) – an additional 400 full freighters across the globe, the vast majority of which went from China to the US – which ordered more than 56,000 tons of laptops, smartphones, tablets and computers than it did the previous year. Happy days.


And what’s more, the industry has something to pat itself on the back for. It may have taken a while, some cash, and a few arguments along the way, but momentum is finally behind eAWBs. IATA’s target is 22% by the end of the year. At the end of September, the industry had made it to 19.9% (on legally feasible trade lanes – in August it was 14.5% of all shipments across all trade lanes). It’s a small but achievable goal.


However, before the industry rushes off to splash out on a celebration for both its e-progress and the return to the more profitable days of the past, there are signs that next year may not be so strong. A stalling German economy is expected to bring Europe down with it. Many more widebody passenger aircraft are arriving. High-tech is a volatile sector which is not expected to perform in the same way it did this year, plus it is flirting heavily with the competition in surface transport.


The industry should hold its nerve – as long as there is no “silly” pricing, as one executive puts it, then maybe the gains of this year will not be lost on the winds of next.


Happily, according to Seabury, there are likely to be bright spots next year too. Just don’t count on when, where or how they might appear.

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