Heathrow adds second freighter operation as ABC launches Moscow service

AirBridgeCargo Airlines (ABC) has added a new freighter service connecting Heathrow Airport with Moscow’s Sheremetyevo using one of its Boeing 747 freighters.
The service will fly every Thursday and Saturday and will offer a capacity of more than 100 tonnes of cargo per flight. It will utilise slots not popular with passenger airlines.
Heathrow said the new service will be welcomed by exporters that currently face a capacity shortage on long-haul destinations, especially Asia where consumer spending is expected to reach $32trn by 2030.
ABC added that the new operation was its 14th European destination and would leverage demand for British goods in mainland Europe and southeast Asia.
Robert van de Weg, senior vice president of sales & marketing at ABC parent Volga-Dnepr Group, said: “The introduction of London Heathrow services is an important step for us and extends the number of delivery solutions we can offer our worldwide customers.
"Europe, together with China, has been our prime market since the very first day of our operations 12 years ago and it continues to support our strong growth performance. In the first nine months of 2016, we have achieved a 22% increase in tonnage ex Europe.”
The new service also aligns with Heathrow’s expansion plans. Last week it was given government backing to build a new runway, although this will be voted on by parliament next year, and it has announced plans to invest £180m over the next 15 years in cargo infrastructure.
These investments will fund a specialist pharmaceutical storage area as well as better infrastructure to reduce congestion and average cargo processing times from today’s nine hours to four hours.
In total the airport is aiming to double cargo throughput through the expansion and investment.
One of the airport’s arguments for gaining government backing for the new runway was its ability to encourage trade because of its intercontinental links, especially important since the UK voted to leave the European Union.
Since the vote, the value of the pound has dropped, lowering the cost of UK goods abroad and boosting exports.
The addition of a new freighter flight, something that didn’t look likely a couple of years ago, will be seen as further proof that the airport is getting serious about cargo.
Earlier this year, the airport announced it would add 25,000 new flights per year from 2021 using existing runways. It is not yet known if any of these extra flights will be used for freighter services.
Nick Platts, head of cargo at Heathrow Airport said: “We are pleased to welcome ABC to Heathrow. Cargo is a little-known but huge part of our operations – in fact, Heathrow is responsible for 29% of all UK non- EU exports, virtually all of which goes in the belly-holds of passenger aircraft, making us Britain’s largest port.
"New cargo partners like ABC, along with our plans for expansion at Heathrow, will allow us to increase our cargo capacity and keep the UK open to business around the world.”

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