In past economic recoveries, air freight has been a driver toward prosperity, but according to Brandon Fried, executive director of the Airforwarders Association, this business activity is likely to be a follower this time around.
Air freight, especially imports to the United States from Asia, is tied to consumer demand, and with consumers currently skittish about the future, purchasing activity is likely to stay low. And when purchasing activity stays low, shippers look to other modes for cargo transport, leaving air freight behind.
The government should also shoulder some of the blame, he said.
“Congress hasn’t helped any,” Fried told American Shipper
. “We go from one crisis to another, and that hasn’t helped consumers. They don’t know how high their taxes are going to be. In certain regions, they don’t know if they’re going to have jobs.”
The latest results from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the economy is getting a bit better, with the unemployment rate dropping to 7.7 percent in February on an increase of 236,000 jobs. Employment figures had risen, on average, by 195,000 each month since November. The construction and health care industries added the most jobs in February, increasing their employment roles by 48,000 and 32,000, respectively.
The International Air Transport Association's outlook is a bit more sunny than others about the bounce-back prospects for air freight. It recently pegged worldwide air freight growth at 1.4 percent for the year.
“We need to be cautiously optimistic about the recovery coming,” Fried said. - Jon Ross