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Changes and evolution trends in China's air logistics market

The last public health emergency was SARS in 2003. Looking back on the development of China's air cargo in the past 18 years, it can be roughly divided into two stages: the first stage is before the financial crisis in 2008, benefiting from the positive impact of China's accession to the WTO, China's air cargo can be described as soaring, belonging to a typical extensive development model, the market is growing rapidly, and new entrants are emerging in an endless stream; The second stage is after the financial crisis, China's economic transformation and upgrading, international trade frictions intensified, although China's air cargo market generally maintained a relatively high development rate, but also with the global trade pattern and changes in the international industrial transfer and adjustment, the growth rate slowed down significantly, the market and product structure have undergone significant changes. This indicates that the first phase of the extensive development model is basically over, even if the market demand has fluctuated greatly due to the impact of the new crown epidemic, we should also recognize the unsustainability of this special demand, and the demand for epidemic prevention materials transportation cannot change this trend at all. In fact, the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Global Trade Data Outlook, released in October, fully confirms this. Although the WTO lowered the decline in world trade data in 2020 from the previous 13% to 9.2% in the "Outlook", it still expressed concern about the future development of world trade, believing that the development of global trade in 2021 will face many uncertainties, and the growth rate has been sharply reduced from the previous 21.3% to 7.2%, which is undoubtedly a problem that we need to be vigilant against when studying China's air cargo development strategy today.

Second, the market structure

Judging from the past and current epidemic situation of China's air cargo regional market adjustment, the central and western air cargo markets are rising rapidly, with an average growth rate of 14.2% and 15.6% respectively in the past 10 years, while the average annual growth rate in the eastern region is only 6.6% in the same period. In terms of the node market, taking the data of 2019 as an example, the growth rate of Zhengzhou and Xi'an airports in the central and western regions is significantly higher; The growth rate of the traditional air cargo advantage market in the southeast is only half of the first two, but it shows a trend of returning to the source of goods, and the growth rate of Hangzhou and Shenzhen airports, which are in the development center of e-commerce and high-tech industries, is significantly higher than that of airports in surrounding cities.

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. Service Supply

Driven by the main line of deepening supply-side structural reform, the supply of air cargo services is undergoing fission: first, traditional air cargo companies are accelerating the development of logistics, such as China Eastern Airlines Logistics; The second is the e-commerce service enterprises, after the completion of the distribution system and port center layout, began to accelerate the penetration of air cargo trunk transportation, such as Jingdong and Cainiao, although they take different paths, but are accelerating the pace of participating in air cargo services; Finally, the express delivery companies that originated from ground transportation, on the basis of the establishment of air freight companies, have also accelerated the introduction of transportation capacity and market layout, such as SF Express and YTO.

Fourth, service needs

With China's economic transformation and industrial restructuring, the object of air cargo services is shifting to large consumer goods, showing the physical characteristics of "light, scattered and small" and the commodity characteristics of "electricity, fashion and fresh", and the service demand of "direct origin" also presents the new characteristics of "fast, intelligent and financial" logistics. All of this has further accelerated the transformation of air cargo services, on the one hand, all kinds of service providers are trying to extend their own service chains and develop "door-to-door" services; On the other hand, airports and other enterprises have accelerated the transformation and upgrading of infrastructure, and have made a fuss in terms of transportation timeliness, service functions and product types, etc., to develop special cargo and cold chain logistics, and enhance the competitiveness of cargo hubs and transportation channels.

Based on the changes in the above four aspects, judging the trend of future air cargo development, the following conclusions can be drawn: air cargo in the post-epidemic era will face the strategic requirements of intensive development. Especially in the context of the increasing uncertainties in the development of the international situation, the competition of the new technological revolution and the local priority policies of various countries, as well as China's construction of a new development pattern with the domestic cycle as the main body and the domestic and international dual cycles reinforcing each other, air cargo will inevitably turn to medium and low-speed development. Under the influence of industrial transfer and the extension of the open highland to the inland, the market demand will increase and will develop in a balanced manner, but it will also face strong competition from ground transportation; Long-haul routes in Europe and the United States may be slow to develop as a result, but demand from ASEAN and developing countries along the Belt and Road will increase. Under the major principle of "overall development and security", the construction of "independent and self-reliant international air cargo is undoubtedly the fundamental task to ensure the safety of the industrial chain and supply chain", which will inevitably affect the development model of China's air cargo, as well as the direction and pattern of internationalization.

At the same time, with the transformation of the development model and market structure, the division of labor in the air cargo market and the growth model of the enterprise will also change: "integration and integrated development will become the key to the market, the service tends to be professional and systematic, and intelligence determines the success or failure of competition." The three key players of air cargo services, airlines, airports, and logistics integration enterprises, will face the problem of redefining their roles, and the division of labor between them may show a polarized development direction, such as the coordination of capacity allocation of passenger and cargo airlines, the birth of professional capacity leasing companies, and the international competitiveness of integrated air logistics enterprises, which will continue to develop and evolve under this transformation. From the perspective of the overall air cargo system, the competitiveness of a country or city will undoubtedly be reflected in the five major logistics performance indicators such as cargo clearance efficiency, tracking ability, timely delivery frequency, service cost advantage, and infrastructure quality. All this, relying on the traditional production operation and management mode is definitely difficult to achieve effective improvement. Therefore, based on the intelligence of digital technology, the development of an intelligent freight system integrating unmanned transportation, intelligent warehousing, automatic loading and unloading and handling will be an inevitable choice for the development of air cargo in the future.


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