Surge in air cargo seen this year

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang Freight Forwarders Association (PFFA) has forecast handling 139,000 tonnes of air cargo in 2013, registering a 13% increase in the total tonnage of cargo to be handled this year compared with the 121,000 tonnes achieved for 2012.

PFFA vice-president and air freight chairman P. Kalimuthu (pic) said PFFA was confident of achieving the target, as the feedback from the manufacturing sector had been positive so far.

“The manufacturers in Bayan Lepas are receiving orders from overseas not just for electronic and semiconductor components, which are currently experiencing a slowdown, but also for components used in the automotive, pharmaceutical and telecommunications sectors, which are not that badly affected by the global economic climate.

“For this reason, we expect to do better than 2012,” Kalimuthu said.

Last year, the PFFA handled 121,000 tonnes of air cargo, compared with 135,000 tonnes in 2011.

“Although the volume handled declined, the value of the air cargo increased by 5% to 10%, as the components exported were of higher value used in upmarket consumer electronic devices,” he explained.

For the first quarter of 2013, Kalimuthu said the PFFA expected to handle 35,000 tonnes of air cargo, compared with the 30,000 tonnes achieved in the same period a year ago.

“Since last September, the fuel surcharge has increased by 5% for the Asian, Australian and New Zealand destinations.

“For the US and Europe destinations, the fuel surcharge has increased 10% to RM4.10 per kg.

“Prior to the increase, the fuel surcharge for the Indian sub-continent was RM1.80 per kg, RM2.30 per kg for Australia and New Zealand, and RM1.20 per kg for Japan and South Korea,” he said.

Kalimuthu said he expected air freighters to further reduce their cargo space capacity this year, which would create a shortage of air cargo space.

“In the final quarter of 2012, the air freighters had started to reduce their cargo capacity,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Free Industrial Zone, Penang, Companies' Association (Frepenca) president Heng Huck Lee said most of its member companies were expecting to see an improvement in their sales in the first quarter of 2013.

“More than 50% of the members are projecting a better second quarter 2013 over the first.

“Over two-thirds of our members will introduce new product line-ups and make investments in new technology soon,” he said.

PIE Industrial Bhd managing director Alvin Mui, for instance, said the group would ship out about 50% of its printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) products to its customers via air cargo in the first quarter.

“We expect our sales to grow by a single digit for first quarter 2013 over the same period last year,” he said.

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