Cargo volume off 0.6% in first half

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Cargo volume off 0.6% in first half

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said yesterday that the nation’s air cargo volume from January through June was 1.7 million tons, down 0.6 percent from a year earlier.

According to the ministry, international air cargo shipments gained 0.5 percent to 1.58 million tons in the first half. Although export of IT products dropped, the ministry said, passenger cargo increased due to the expansion of short-haul trips. Korea’s air cargo traffic figures include luggage on passenger flights.

By country, the ministry said cargo to Japan dropped 6.4 percent year-on-year to 203,368 tons, while cargo to Europe declined 5.9 percent to 252,529 tons. Shipments to China, the Middle East and Southeast Asia increased.

Domestic air cargo shipments saw a 13.6 percent year-on-year drop to 123,380 tons.

The ministry predicted that air cargo volume in the second half will increase slightly due to Korean companies’ release of new IT products including smartphones and OLED TVs.

Local air carriers have been trying to cope with declines in cargo business by cutting less profitable flights and changing schedules.

Korean Air Lines, the nation’s top flag carrier, recently announced moves intended to revitalize its cargo business, which accounts for more than 30 percent of its revenue.

The affiliate of Hanjin Group last week announced it was putting Cho Won-tae, vice president and chief of the corporate strategy division, in charge of its cargo business unit. Cho is the only son of Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Yang-ho.

KAL also decided to sell Grandstar Cargo, a joint venture airline with China’s biggest logistics company, Sinotrans, established in 2007 at a cost of $23.8 million. The joint venture was originally thought to be a stepping stone to enter Chinese cargo market, but losses piled due to low demand and rising costs.

According to KAL, Grandstar Cargo, which ceased flight operations last year, had a net loss of 340.1 million yuan ($55.4 million) in 2011 after losing 20.7 million yuan in 2010 and 94.3 million yuan in 2009.

KAL tried to sell its 25 percent stake in the company last in October. Industry sources said the airline recently decided to hand over its Grandstar Cargo shares to Uni-top Airlines for one yuan. The deal is awaiting Chinese government approval.

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