Strategy needed for air freight to take off

May 09, 2022 - 08:46

Việt Nam needs to have an appropriate strategy to promote the development of air logistics and tap its large potential, experts have said.


The air logistics of Việt Nam have significant room for growth, driven by the enforcement of free trade agreements that will boost the goods circulation volume. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoàng Tuyết

HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam needs to have an appropriate strategy to promote the development of air logistics and tap its large potential, experts have said.

Lê Vương Quốc, director of Gemix Việt Nam Joint Stock Company, which exports fresh fruits, said that shipping fresh farm produce to Switzerland was not easy because this country did not have seaports. As there were no direct flights from Việt Nam to Switzerland, his company must ship through a third country.

Quốc said this pushed up transportation costs, and his company could only export in a small volume.

In addition, air freight rates in Thailand were always around 30 per cent lower than in Việt Nam, plus there is a direct route from Thailand to Switzerland, which makes it difficult for Vietnamese firms to compete with Thailand.

Nguyễn Đình Tùng, general director of Vina T& T Group Import – Export Company, said transporting agricultural products by air would ensure quality and shorten the time compared to by railway or by sea. However, high air logistics charges remained a limitation.

Tùng pointed out that many Vietnamese airlines had not yet built routes to countries like Switzerland, Canada and the US, and shipping largely depended on foreign airlines.

In a recent workshop, Wackerbauer Lars, senior advisor of IPP Air Cargo, the first cargo airline in Việt Nam, said that more than 80 per cent of Việt Nam’s logistics market was in the hands of foreign companies. Meanwhile, the freight demand kept increasing, fuelled by the boom of e-commerce.

What made Việt Nam’s air logistics less competitive was that the freight rates remained high, he said, adding that airlines had not paid adequate attention to and poured adequate investment in air cargo transportation while the infrastructure system was limited.

Statistics of the Ministry of Industry and Trade showed that the market share of international airfreight of three domestic carriers, Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air and Jetstar Pacific, was around 12-15 per cent, while the rest was foreign airlines.

Meanwhile, the air logistics of Việt Nam had significant room for growth, driven by the enforcement of free trade agreements which would boost the goods circulation volume.

According to the International Air Transport Association, air logistics of Việt Nam could expand at an average of 6.7 per cent per year in 2015-35, higher than the world average at 3.9 per cent and 4.6 per cent of the Asia-Pacific region.

In 2021 when the COVID-19 pandemic was complex, international passenger transportation dropped by 93 per cent to 500,000, but cargo transportation increased by 21.3 per cent to 1.1 million tonnes over 2020.

Among five major airlines in operation in Việt Nam, none had professionally and separately invested in cargo transportation. IPP Air Cargo which specialises in cargo transportation is waiting for approval.

Airlines should cooperate with enterprises in the logistics industry to establish an air logistics chain to make transportation more convenient and efficient at more reasonable costs.

According to Trần Thanh Hải, Deputy Director of the Import-Export Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Việt Nam has huge potential for developing air logistics.

However, ground infrastructure was one of the major challenges.

Airport infrastructure had not invested adequately for cargo freight. There are currently 10 international airports in Việt Nam, but only two of them, Nội Bài and Tân Sơn Nhất, have centres for air logistics.

Little attention was being paid to developing specialised centres for air logistics, which required large scale development and the integration of services and connectivity to reduce logistics costs.

It was necessary to have a strategy and cooperation with enterprises and organisations in the logistics industry to promote air logistics development, Hải said.

“An appropriate development strategy is important for air cargo transportation to take off,” Hải said. — VNS