Saturday, February 6, 2010

Asian Shipping Investment Set To Grow As Air Freight And Banks Declare An Interest

Asia – Pacific Region is seen as the place to be whilst Europe economises
Shipping News Feature

ASIA – PACIFIC – After the announcement that HSBC were moving their CEO’s office to Hong Kong and considering a listing on the Shanghai Index comes the news that Airbus Industries predict that regional cargo traffic will rise 6.3% each year until 2030. Despite the fact that many will look sideways at such hopeful pronouncements it is not exactly a leap of faith to say growth in the region will outstrip global performance. Airbus reckon demand from local carriers will return sales for them of over a trillion dollars with sales to exceed 8000 aircraft with cargo freighters taking up to 40% of the world market.

In November we reported that Airbus already had moved substantial parts of its operation to the East with 50% of their current range already containing Chinese manufactured components. US and European companies are having to become leaner and more aggressive to maintain their share of traditional logistics markets such as finance and marine insurance.

Shipping lines also are toughening up as the need for trimmed down operations becomes essential not just to profitability but survival . Recently even giants like Maersk Line have felt the pinch. After their worst ever performance figures the company are embroiled in a row with the North West Development Agency over funds which were meant to aid expansion of the groups activities at their Liverpool offices. Maersk have closed their Southampton and Hainault shipping operations (not logistics) and now stand accused of not fulfilling their commitment to create 70 jobs on Merseyside. As early as January 2008 Maersk made a public commitment to turn around the worsening situation with a four core strategy which included ‘reduce complexity and cost’ amongst its aims.

Maersk of course are, like rivals CMA-CGM , another troubled carrier, a European based giant in container and bulk shipping and much of their income is derived from the Asia Pacific trade. With other Chinese and South Korean rivals able to maintain lower administration costs even traditional opponents like the Japanese lines will find it hard to resist more of their operations being controlled from cheaper bases in the developing countries of the region.

Airbus in the meantime can breathe more freely, in an industry where costs and risks are famously high, and where one unpopular design can ruin a corporation, they can review an order book which shows over 1400 Airbus aircraft already delivered to 66 regional customers with another 1100 confirmed orders and their prediction is that all cargo air freight fleets will grow to five times their current level in the next twenty years.

Pic: Courtesy Airbus Industries