MEMBERS of the Philippine Liner Shipping Association (PLSA) are likely to revise down their volume and revenue growth forecasts in their scheduled quarterly meeting this month.
A quarter into the year, local cargo carriers are maintaining their gloomy outlook for 2009 due to the strong global economic crisis.
An initial PLSA assessment has placed cargo traffic reduction at 15%, with northbound volumes plummeting more than anticipated.
"The overall outlook of our member lines are gloomy three months into 2009," said a PLSA official who requested anonymity.
"The volume of north-bound cargo or those coming from Mindanao and Visayas to Manila, already been down some months back, has further declined drastically," the official said.
"The operators nonetheless are hoping that the condition will turn around next year," he said.
In early 2008, the carriers expected a rosy freight business in the next five years anchored on the country’s strong mining and construction businesses.
Dire prospects until 2011
In another development, air cargo forwarders are expecting the economic slowdown to continue in the next two years but are hoping that stimulus packages implemented by the world’s economic powers will somehow soften the blow to business.
In a presentation to Global Cargo Council Inc (GCCI) members last week, Aircargo Forwarders of the Philippines, Inc president Roy Raralio said the dire business conditions are erasing any possibility of growth for cargo carriers and freight forwarders this year.
"We cannot forecast when the crisis would bottom out but we expect the problem would continue in the next two years," he added. "We are hopeful that the different stimulus packages can change the near future in order for our business outlook to change."
The Philippines is getting ready with its own P350-billion stimulus package focused on infrastructure projects.
There is a push, Raralio said, to open entirely new markets with traditional and non-traditional ones continuing to diminish.
He explained the only recourse for businesses is the implementation of cost-reduction measures such as downsizing and cutting work schedules. Some companies, he added, have chosen to close shop and shift to businesses less affected by the crisis.
Air shipments by members of the Semiconductors and Electronics Industries of the Philippines, Inc are expected to be cut by 50% this year.
Electronics and semiconductors comprise 50-70% of the total volume handled by airlines and air freight forwarders.
National Economic and Development Authority figures show imports will grow 6% this year down from the previous 8%, while exports will increase 3% down from the previous 10%.