Air Transport World

Guarded optimism--very guarded.(air cargo demand could rise in Asia and the rest of the world)

Indications are that Asia may be coming back from its economic crisis--but then there are all those other places

On a broad global scale, the economic situation--and therefore the international air cargo situation--is not terrible. For the past two years Asia has been the dominant factor with its "economic flu." This in turn has caused other areas of the world to start coughing.

Now it appears that Asia has started its road to recovery. Some countries are coming back strong while others seem to have at least bottomed out. Unfortunately, other parts of the world are still coughing.

The strongest Asian comeback is in Korea, which has seen its stock market jump 49% from a February low and is expecting 3-4% GDP growth this year. One of the hardest hit of the Asian nations, Korea's rapid recovery in part has come from the willingness of Korean corporations to break up their conglomerates and sell off the various elements to buy down heavy debt. "This allows a much more rapid restructuring of the economy," said Dr. David Blond, chief economist for MergeGlobal, an Arlington, Va.-based strategic consulting firm specializing in freight transportation.

The Philippines and Thailand also are expected to be among the first to recover, albeit with very modest growth, and Malaysia as well is expecting a modest recovery.

The biggest question mark for Asian air cargo remains Japan, which according to Boeing controls 31.7% of the transpacific market. "How Japan improves and recovers will determine the health of the entire, Asian air freight market," Blond said.

Brian Clancy, a principal at MergeGlobal, likens the transpacific market to a pipeline between the US and Japan. …

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