IAG Cargo sees revenues take off in 2021

By Damian Brett

IAG Cargo hub at London Heathrow Airport. Photo: IAG Cargo

IAG Cargo, the cargo division of International Airlines Group, saw its cargo revenues reach new highs last year on the back of soaring rates and an improvement in demand.

For the full year, the company reported a 28.1% year-on-year increase in revenues to €1.7bn as traffic, measured in cargo tonne kms (CTK), increased by 16.8% on 2020 levels to 4bn CTK.

The higher percentage increase in revenues compared with volumes comes as the industry reported record high freight rates last year as the loss of bellyhold capacity resulted in a space shortage and higher prices.

While traffic improved, it has yet to return to the levels recorded in the pre-covid year of 2019 when the group registered 5.6bn CTK. Revenues, however, have exceeded pre-covid levels, with 2019 sales standing at €1.1bn.

The carrier said that it had taken advantage of the strong cargo market and actively repurposed group capacity where appropriate.

“The business continued to align its network to customer demand, supporting customers with cargo-led flying, increasing frequencies on important trade routes and implementing an active charter programme of 745 rotations,” IAG Cargo said.

“In the second half of the year IAG Cargo saw momentum build with capacity starting to return   as the economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic gained ground.

“In Q4, e-commerce and hi-tech flows from South East Asia into North America accounted for much of this success as did the movement of automotive parts from the UK and Europe. Hong Kong demand remained very buoyant and from mid-December the business directed volumes to flow via Bangkok as crew quarantine restrictions limited direct Hong Kong Flights.

“IAG Cargo also moved large volumes of what are typically seen as non-airfreight commodities as shippers favoured shorter delivery times and volumes shifted from sea to air against a background of supply chain disruption, port congestion and low inventories.”

IAG Cargo managing director David Shepherd said: “In 2021 the role of air cargo remained very much in the spotlight. Our people went above and beyond to find solutions to the global capacity crunch and airfreight restrictions. These results are a reflection of their determination and creativity.

“I’m also proud of our work in the fight against Covid-19. In 2021 our cold chain, Constant Climate, service was responsible for shipping millions of doses of life-saving COVID-19 vaccines to almost every corner of the world.

“In 2021 we also invested in improving the functionality of our website and expanded our partnerships with third party platform providers. Both actions, supporting online channel shift and digital bookings whilst providing more flexibility to our customers. It was also great to see a massive expansion in our Forward Rewards loyalty programme last year with an additional 700 customers  signing-up to benefit from earning free flights, hotel stays and cargo credit.”

“We enter 2022 with ambition and optimism for the year ahead.”  

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