Bangkok's New Airport a Long Way from Its Aspirations

One airline was contemplating suspending its cargo operations in Thailand for a couple of days to avoid a potential meltdown.

Thai Airways has not moved on indications made two years ago that it might spin off cargo into a subsidiary that could take a more dynamic approach to the market. For a while it looked as though this gap might be filled by Thai Air Cargo, a joint venture between Qantas and Thai logistics firm Commercial Transport International, but in July the Australian carrier announced those plans were suspended indefinitely because of high fuel prices and the unavailability of suitable, fuel-efficient aircraft.

Without new freighter operations, Suvarnabhumi will not be able to mount a challenge to Kuala Lumpur, let alone Singapore, as a regional gateway. Forwarders have been trucking cargo from Thailand to those hubs, not because of the congestion at Don Muang but because of the lack of maindeck lift.

At least Ringheim does not see Kuala Lumpur snatching more traffic from the golden land. "I think there's plenty of room for both of them to grow," he said.

... Briefly

Freight traffic carried by Asian airlines grew 5.5 percent in August, more than twice the 2.2 percent gain in capacity, according to the Association of Asia-Pacific Airlines. ... Private express delivery companies in China protested a new version of a postal law they said would give overwhelming market power to state-owned China Post, including a monopoly on small parcels and compulsory payments to subsidize postal service. The Conference of Asia Pacific Express Carriers issued a statement saying the law would "stifle healthy competition." ... TNT completed the purchase of the China's Hoau Group, a Shanghai-based road transport and forwarding business. ... A route rationalization program at Malaysian Airlines will likely cost MASkargo some $16 million in revenue, airline cargo chief J.J. Ong said at the recent International Air Cargo Forum, as flights to Europe and Japan are cut back. ... China Air Cargo Service started three-times-weekly freighter flights between Shanghai, Beijing and Copenhagen, the airline's second 747-400 freighter connection between China and Europe. ...Cathay Pacific carried 94,987 tonnes in August, 0.5 percent better than the same month last year on a 0.7 percent increase in capacity. ... Cargo traffic at Hong Kong International Airport grew 3.4 percent in August over the same month a year ago, the highest increase since May and extending a lackluster year for the airport. Imports grew only 1.1 percent in the month, although freighter movements increased 7.4 percent and were up 8.7 percent in the April-August period. ... China Southern began three-times-weekly passenger flights between Guangzho and Dubai. ... Freight throughput at Singapore Changi Airport in August increased 3.1 percent over same month in 2005, giving the airport 1.2 million tonnes over the first eight months of the year, 5.8 percent ahead of last year. ... Adding to its already tough customs procedures, Indian Customs started requiring all airlines to file import manifests prior to aircraft arrival at all Indian airports. ... Nippon Cargo Airlines took its third 747-400 extended-range freighter from Boeing, the first it has taken under its "Phoenix Project" restructuring under an independent business model.

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