Cargo analyst warns airports to get competitive
Airports need to “redefine their relevance” amidst fundamental changes in the way shippers and consignees manage their supply chains and the impact these changes will likely have on airlines and the intermediaries who use them, said Ted Scherck, president of the Atlanta-based cargo research firm The Colography Group Inc..
Speaking at the annual Airports Council International — North America’s cargo symposium Wednesday in Berkeley, Calif., Scherck urged airports to re-accelerate their cargo marketing and business development efforts, warning that in an environment of competing alternatives for transport services, “it is no longer enough to build runways or buildings, sit back and expect the cargo to come cascading through the door. To succeed, airports must understand and serve the business needs of their customers’ customers i.e., the shipper and/or consignee. Failure to do so will likely result in diversion of traffic to those entities that will.”
Increasingly, North American commerce is migrating to a regionalized, short-haul distribution model that has reduced reliance on air transport and, therefore, the use of airports, Scherk said. International air freight markets remain robust, although The Colography Group projects that during 2006 the value and weight of goods moving by vessel and via inter-country land transport will increase at a much faster rate than air.
Several factors are responsible for this phenomenon. But Scherck said faster and more reliable delivery services from shipping and trucking companies could entice businesses to convert some of their air business to less-expensive shipping alternatives, particularly for goods where the product value-to-weight ratio is below $20 per pound.
“Clearly, airports are no longer insulated from the underlying economic and business factors driving global competition,” Scherck said. “These trends will have a dramatic impact on the fate of airport assets and how they will be utilized.”