Rumors Surround Possible Merger of Chinese Air Cargo Operations
Reports are circulating that China’s three largest air cargo carriers will merge to form Asia’s largest air cargo carrier, based on quotes from a senior official at China’s Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC).
According to the CAAC official, the deal will meld the operations of Air China Cargo, China Cargo Airlines and China Southern Cargo into one single unit.
“Currently, this work [the merger] is being actively pushed,” says agency deputy chief Zhou Laizhen, who did not disclose a timeline or valuation for the deal.
The deal is cloaked in mystery as the CAAC has declined commenting further on the deal. Representatives from China Cargo Airlines and China Southern Cargo have refused to comment on the news of the purported merger.
“As far as I know, I am not aware of this development and I have never heard of this news,” says Air China Cargo COO, Titus Diu.
Air China Cargo is a joint venture freight project between Air China Limited and Cathay Pacific Airways Limited, while China Cargo Airlines is a venture between China Eastern and China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO). China Southern Cargo operates as part of China Southern Airlines.
MERGER COMES AS CHINA’S ECONOMY DROPS TO ITS LOWEST PACE IN 25 YEARS
China has the world’s second largest air transport system but its cargo flight throughput grew just 7.8 percent last year to 136 million tons.
“The value of China’s international air freight only accounted for 17 percent of its total trade turnover in 2014,” says CAAC chief Li Jiaxiang told Xinhua.
According to International Air Transport Association statistics, Asia’s biggest cargo airline by freight ton kilometres in 2014 was Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific, followed by Korean Air. Worldwide they were number two and three behind global leader Emirates.
Overall economic growth in the world’s second-largest economy dropped to 7.4 percent in 2014, the slowest pace in nearly a quarter of a century, and this year has seen few signs of any reversal in the slowing trend.
China’s imports slumped nearly 18 percent year-on-year in May, the seventh straight monthly decline, while exports also dropped for the third consecutive month.