49-52/2016 Centrifugal forces and absolute space
Physics never was one of my strengths. But I’m nevertheless tempted to compare our industry with the laws of nature – interactive physical bodies, the relation between inertia and mass, the laws of time and space, symmetry and asymmetry, overheating and cooling, they all make me think of the sea changes the transport and logistics industry has experienced this year, which could justly be called the most spectacular twelve months in the history of maritime shipping. Aviation’s calender year has not been much less dramatic, nor have the other modes of transport had a quiet time of it. Long-cherished basic business models have been jeopardised, resulting in unexpected changes.
The bankruptcy of the South Korean shipping line Hanjin in August was followed by the planned merger of the Japanese container shipping giants K Line, MOL and NYK, announced in October. December has brought no respite, with the sale of Hamburg Süd to Maersk revealed recently. “Too big to fail” is thus truly obsolete. The bleak financial situation of shipping lines will also have an impact on all other players in the supply chain in the long run.
The aviation industry has no reason to relax either. One could take the rather manageable number of faces that turned up for Tiaca’s Air Cargo Forum in Paris as a symbol of the crisis – people voted with their feet. Forwarders, road hauliers, inland shippers and the railfreight industry too are all feeling the increasingly hard times.
The earth reverberates, but the sky hasn’t fallen. We may be in the eye of the storm – but we have eyes to see the positive signals that are there, and hands with which to craft new solutions. We’ve been discussing the necessity of restructuring the container shipping industry since 2008. Now the path is being set.
The airfreight industry has presented its September figures, which have shown global growth of 6.1% in freight tonne kilometres, according to Iata – the best results since February 2015. Forwarders have grasped opportunities presented by e-commerce, with WCA even founding a dedicated network for the segment.
These are just some of the positive trends that sometimes are already more advanced than we might think. There is thus plenty of reason to be believe that we can make the best of 2017. Centrifugal forces can be countered.
Have a lovely Christmas and a good start to the new year!