Can freighters beat the bulge?

19 / 08 / 2013

  • Is there a future for maindeck cargo-only aircraft services?

    Is there a future for maindeck cargo-only aircraft services?

THE future viability of dedicated freighter operations will be put under the spotlight at next month’s Freighters and Belly Cargo conference at Abu Dhabi.

With growing numbers of passenger airlines acquiring fleets of new widebodied jets –with 30-tonne-capable virtual freighters in their lower holds – what does this mean for the future of maindeck cargo-only aircraft services?

In a pre-show debate, Air Cargo News is publishing some early insights and answers to this question in its next issue.

Michael Steen, chief commercial officer at freighter lease company Atlas Air, is convinced the future remains bright.

“Freighters are essential to the global air cargo industry as they serve a very important role in the form of providing dedicated cargo (including outsized) capacity in key trade-lanes, operating into manufacturing and distribution centres where there is insufficient lift – and supporting just-in-time supply chain requirements on a global basis,” he says.

“These attributes aren’t and can’t be replaced by more belly capacity as that would be impossible from a financial, operational and regulatory standpoint.”

His views are echoed by Tatyana Arslanova, vice-president of marketing and strategy at Volga Dnepr Group, parent company of Russian all-cargo airline AirBridgeCargo.

“Passenger and all-cargo airlines have different business models,” she emphasises.

“All-cargo airlines specialise not only in delivering large consignments (the cargo payload on a B747 is 110-120 tonnes per flight) but also in transporting special cargo that doesn’t fit into the bellies of passenger aircraft, such as oversized shipments and dangerous goods.

“Furthermore, all-cargo carriers are more flexible in route network planning as they can adapt their schedule to the cargo flows and do not highly depend on large passenger gateways, enabling them to be more responsive to the requirements of their customers,” she adds.