ABC open for talks with legacy carriers

Denis Ilin, executive president of AirBridgeCargo Airlines (ABC), has an open door for partnership talks with “legacy carriers” looking to outsource their current pure freighter services.
Speaking at the Air Cargo Europe show in Munich, Ilin also confirmed that ABC hopes to take delivery of two more B747-8 freighters in September this year, making a total of 16 B747s in the ABC fleet, and with ambitions to add two more per year up to 2020.
Asked about alliances with traditional combination carriers, Ilin noted the IAG Cargo decision last year to switch from leased freighters to a block space agreement with Qatar Airways.
He said: “If AF KLM were to go the same way, then that is the biggest opportunity for us. These huge legacy carriers will never give up freight, but in order to make sure that their freight service is comprehensive they will need to have both belly and freighters.
“That is the opening for a partnership between a legacy carrier and a specialist player like ourselves.”
Ilin continued: “I don’t know what AF KLM is going for, and they need to examine the economical solution for themselves.” He added that if the Franco-Dutch carrier is looking for a partner, then: “I am open for partnership, I believe in partnership and I think that freighters will stay as a great complementary service to what belly capacity can offer on the market.”
On the two new B747-8s, Ilin said: “We hope to get two more dash eights by September, which has still to be negotiated with Boeing. The aircraft are available to us and I am really hopeful that we can get them.”
He added: “At the moment we can absorb pretty easily two additional airplanes a year, at the moment the dash 8 is the only choice we have, and by 2020 that would give us a fleet of 25 airplanes. I think 25 is a good number for global coverage.”
The ABC boss said that the current airfreight market is “really challenging” with limited prospects for real volume growth this year, adding: “but we are stepping into niches where this is still demand but which are not served for whatever reasons. For instance,if airlines decide to limit their operations or stop them altogether.”
He predicted a “tough summer” for the global airfreight industry, but was hopeful that ABC would achieve “at least double digit” growth in volumes by the end of 2015, compared with 17 per cent in 2014 versus 2013.
A full interview with Denis Ilin will be available in the next edition of Air Cargo News.

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