Air Cargo: Challenges Ahead

China market confuses picture of the future


“The three B747-400F freighters we operate are fairly new aircraft and are more efficient than many others in the market,” Cobley states. In the past 10 years, British Airways World Cargo has also invested nearly $1 billion in systems, capacity, and facilities at its London Heathrow hub and across the global network.

Emirates, which operates one of the world’s youngest fleets, is also continuing to invest in new, technologically-advanced aircraft. In addition, Emirates SkyCargo offers new customized products and services to help differentiate itself. Its Cool Chain, for example, is designed for the movement of temperature sensitive products.

SkyCargo’s Priority Service assures on-time delivery throughout the world, while the extensive trucking and off-line partner networks ensure comprehensive coverage where customers need it most. SkyChain, the carrier’s website, enables customers to obtain information as well as transact business online.

The Emirates SkyCargo Centre at Dubai International Airport, with its state-of-the-art semi-automated systems, allows the flexibility required by the company’s large redistribution requirements.

Swiss WorldCargo, which sets high quality standards for service, speed and reliability, is particularly successful with its niche express, temperature sensitive, and valuables products.

Korean Air, which transports 80 percent of its cargo on freighters, is building a flexible global network by aggressively developing new routes and providing differentiated service items. Beginning in 2010, the carrier will introduce into service five Boeing 747-8F’s and five Boeing 777F’s. Not only are the new freighters much more fuel efficient, but Korean Air executives believe they will give the carrier an edge on cost competitiveness.

While there is a trend in the air cargo industry toward freighters as opposed to belly hold capacity, particularly between Asia and Europe, many carriers contend that there will always be demand for belly hold. The reason: its strong destination mix and the high frequencies it offers.

However, the jury is out as to the impact increased freighter business will have on cargo volumes for belly hold. Emirates is evolving its freighter operations from supplementing its belly hold capacity to becoming its own network.

Ultimately, however, service quality will be the deciding factor of future competition.

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