Jan de Rijk Logistics senior sales executive of air cargo, Robert Kleppers (pictured) is optimistic that the economic recovery will continue in 2017 but there is much uncertainty.
He says after a slow start to 2016, air cargo picked in the second half with a better than expected performance, which has continued into 2017.
The outlook is promising, with various institutions revising GDP growth forecasts upwards.
Kleppers says: “The lower unemployment and restored consumer confidence are expected to result in higher import volumes with most carriers. The export from the EU zone is also expected to grow as global economy recovery still continues. However, the outlook is surrounded by higher-than-usual uncertainty.”
Something which is causing a great deal of uncertainty is what the UK leaving the European Union (EU) means in practical terms now it has triggered Article 50.
Kleppers points out that UK – EU trade is worth billions of Euros, and industries including agriculture and industrial production are vulnerable to disruption, and so is logistics.
He says: “We hope for a soft Brexit that will not result in an increased administrative workload or added regulations. That would affect free trade between the markets negatively.”
He adds: “It is essential that it becomes clear what conditions the Brits in future will have to access the European Market and vice versa. This should take away uncertainty, as uncertainty delays investments and reduces longer term growth and trade.”
Two major cost effects are creating challenges; inflation is pushing wages up and governments imposing new taxes.
He says: “Threatening is the trend that governments increasingly and unpredictably are imposing new or increased road taxes in order to generate additional income. Apart from the direct cost effect for transportation, it also creates an administrative workload.”
Despite the uncertainty, there is some good news, the shortage of capacity on ocean vessels is helping air cargo volumes to and from Europe.
Kleppers comments: “This is an industry-wide challenge for the shipping industry. Since November last year the shortage resulted in big shipment delays and high box rates, which made the faster air cargo modality an attractive alternative.”