Nordic Airfreight Results Rest on Fish Business

The Nordic Air Cargo Symposium held last week in Stockholm was somewhat more subdued than the conference held in Stockholm in January of last year.

Fresh fish is a Scandinavian export hit  /  source: hs
Fresh fish is a Scandinavian export hit / source: hs

This annual get together of airlines, freight forwarders and shippers operating out of the so called Nordic and Baltic States is a much looked forward to event.

It was as always very well attended and the agenda  again listed an impressive row of speakers although Eno Osinga of AMS Airport had to back out due to sickness. Daniel Setz represented Swissport , KLM‘s cargo helmsman, Erik Varwijk was replaced by Gertjan Roelants , V.P Europe (see separate KLM article in today‘s CFG), and Alex Kohnen, Lufthansa‘s Director Nordic & Baltic countries who again did a splendid job in acting as chairman for the event as well as presenting eAWB progress in the region within the past twelve months.

Agenda subjects ranged from Collaborating and Enhancing in the Air Freight Supply Chain to Speed in Air Cargo Handling & Transportation, as well as a Global Outlook on Market Opportunities.
A top subject was the progress on the implementation of the eAWB within the Nordic countries.

It’s all about fish
One thing became clear however!
General airfreight results in the Nordic states were nothing really to “write home about.”
The market was kept somewhat buoyant by the continued rise in the export of fresh fish.
A valuable source of revenue for the increased numbers of carriers operating there.

In the Nordic area, Sweden and Finland ended 2014 showing declines in airfreight volumes.
Danish tonnage shows a very slight increase over 2013 within the region of 75,000 tons.
Sweden continues to decline and was down to around about 110,000 tons of airfreight. This was slightly lower than 2013 and is a trend which is expected to continue through 2015.
Finnish figures were also weaker than those of 2013, ending in the region of 37,000 tons of airfreight.
Not really a bad situation considering that the first six months of 2014 were not good all round in Europe.

The winner again turned out to be Norway
Their figures contributed to giving the entire Nordic region a total tonnage picture of around 350,000 tons, which represents a small increase over 2013 figures which were in the area of 320,000 tons.
Norwegian growth was phenomenal. Their tonnage rose towards the 140,000 ton mark. Well over that of 2013 where tonnages were also good but had reached 112,500 tons.
An amazing 75% of Norway’s exports resulted from fresh fish, mainly salmon export.
This commodity remains the backbone of Norwegian exports and represents a total of 30% of total Nordic air cargo exports.

The eAWB discussion dominated the scene
At the conference held in 2014 it was announced that there was going to be a joint initiative by IATA and the leading airfreight carriers to implement the eAWB within the Nordic & Baltic countries.
This was introduced in April of last year and the eAWB went live in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden in August.
The so called “Go-Live” roll out in the Baltic countries is now set for 1. April of this year in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Initiating carriers are Lufthansa, Air Baltic and Finnair.
IATA had set an overall target of 23% for 2014.
Denmark and Finland exceeded this target to within the 24% range whereas Sweden attained 15% and Norway lagged somewhat behind with below 8%.
There is still some work to be done this year to get these figures up to scratch.

Agents keep signing IATA’s MLA
The IATA Multilateral Agreement (MLA) came into force in the Nordic region and as of January this year a total of 173 out of 244 registered CASS Freight Forwarders have signed the MLA. This represents 71% of all, with Danish forwarders leading with 90% signing up.

There was again much valuable discussion at the conference on how to further develop the airfreight business in the region as well as questions as to whether there is too much capacity in the market compared to demand.
Interesting questions considering how many Middle East airlines have pinpointed airports such as Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Helsinki.
Here, lucrative fish exports from Norway play an important role.

Lufthansa is putting emphasis on the Oil & Gas industry within the region and have already started a weekly Boeing 777F service between Stavanger and Houston for this purpose.

John Mc Donagh

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