International air cargo to and from Colombia increased from 384,979 tons in 2002 to 502,502 tons in 2008, a 31 percent growth in six years. The dynamism that this sector showed during the reference period went hand in hand with the positive performance of the Colombian economy that attained the most significant growth in many years, an average 5.6 percent annual growth during 2003-2007. At the end of 2008, the economy began to suffer the effects of the global economic crisis. Although initially it was thought that the country would be resilient against the international conjuncture, the Colombian government recognized that the economy was plunging into a recession and lowered its economic growth forecast for 2009 and 2010, which is now 0.5 and 2.5 percent, respectively.
The United States is Colombia’s main foreign trade partner. During the last three years, an average 27.0 percent of total Colombian imports came from the United States. Along this same period, the United States was the market for an average 37.0 percent of total Colombian exports. From 2007 to 2008, the United States accounted for an average 65 percent of total Colombian outbound and inbound international air cargo. Therefore, as the economic conditions of the United States have not improved, foreign trade and total air freight to and from Colombia will continue to decline.
However, despite the current uncertainty in the global economy, air freight volumes are expected to slowly regain their long term upward trends. Industry analysts recommend staying alert for economic changes, maintaining the contacts clients, establishing new ties, merging with other firms, and innovating with better services and lower costs to be able to stay on the competition under the current circumstances and when the world economies start to recover.
By Rebeca Rueda