China Southern Airlines and Air France KLM have postponed the launch of their cargo joint venture indefinitely owing to the rapid slump in the global cargo market, CZ Chairman Si Xianmin told ATWOnline at the IATA AGM in Kuala Lumpur. The original plan targeted a launch in the first quarter, but last month Si said the companies decided to delay "after taking the current market situation into account" (ATWOnline, May 19).
Yesterday he said, "We haven´t given up on it, but its launch has to depend on when the cargo market can recover. So far we don´t have a specific timetable for it." He predicted that cargo market recovery will be later than passenger recovery. "If the international passenger market can recover next year, then cargo market recovery will be later than that," he said. CZ was set to hold a 75% stake in the joint venture, which was slated to opearate 10 747s and A330s within two years. It is the only one of China´s big three that does not operate a cargo subsidiary, although China Eastern Airlines´ China Cargo Airlines and Air China´s Air China Cargo each have suffered large losses.
CA remains interested in a cargo joint venture with Cathay Pacific Airways based in Shanghai, and Cathay CEO Tony Tolder told this website that negotiations are continuing. "I´m not sure whether it can be launched this year or not," he said.