Etihad 'refreshes' freighter network to concentrate on core trade lanes

20 / 09 / 2018

Etihad Cargo will “refresh” its global freighter network from October 1, "to simplify its route network and maximise freighter-to-bellyhold flows”.

The cargo and logistics arm of Middle East carrier Etihad Airways, will redeploy its Boeing 777 freighter capacity on “core trade lanes” to connect its Abu Dhabi hub to selected global markets in Asia, Europe and the US.

Some destinations have been removed from the global network but Etihad has designated a freighter to meet ad hoc demand during the coming peak season. In January this year, Etihad parked its fleet of Airbus A330-200 freighters, which were later sold to DHL. Etihad has an option on a sixth B777F.

Asked to comment on press reports that a number of senior ex-pat cargo executives have left the airline, a spokesperson said: "Management changes are a natural part of the evolution of any company undergoing a transformation. Etihad Cargo’s new strategy is starting to bear fruit and today’s new freighter network announcement is further testament to that.”

Commenting on the new cargo route network, a spokesperson for the UAE carrier said: “The new freighter network will see the airline increase existing Boeing 777 freighter frequencies into key markets in China and India, adding one weekly rotation each into Shanghai (x5) and Chennai (x3).

“The carrier also reinforced its commitment to customers in its core markets as it continues to service Amsterdam (x3), Frankfurt (x3), Columbus Ohio (x3), Hong Kong (x2), Hanoi (x2), Mumbai (x2), Dhaka (x2), East Midlands (x2), Dammam (x2), Delhi (x1), Bangalore (x1) and Chittagong (x1) on a weekly basis.”

A few stations have been removed from the new Etihad Cargo freighter network, the largest of which was Nairobi, with the carrier citing “weakening demand and market behaviours that rendered other core markets more attractive to serve”.

Abdulla Mohamed Shadid, Etihad Airways managing director cargo and logistics, said: “Etihad Cargo continues to cement its position as a major player in the international air cargo market, leveraging Abu Dhabi’s strategic positioning at the centre of the world’s busiest trade lanes to serve these key markets.

“Our freighters are central to this strategy, and the new network will ensure we maximise the cargo flows between main deck cargo and belly-hold capacity on our strong fleet of passenger jets that service our global network.”

To meet seasonal peak in demand, Etihad Cargo is dedicating an aircraft for ad-hoc charter flying during the fourth quarter, and has started taking bookings ahead of the busy month of October.  

The fourth quarter will also see Etihad Cargo offer customers incremental lower-deck cargo capacity to and from Abu Dhabi and the key markets of Singapore, Toronto, Cairo, Bangalore.

For the first time it will  will also offer its customers cargo capacity into and out of Barcelona starting November28, when Etihad Airways launches its first direct service to the Spanish city from Abu Dhabi.

 “This network strategy is  yet another step in the continuous evolution of Etihad Cargo’s service offering to strengthen our customer value proposition while delivering value to the Etihad Aviation Group,” added Shadid.

“It further compliments our ongoing efforts to maximise premium product verticals such as our SkyStables (equine), FlyCulture (arts and music) and FastTrack (mail and courier) products, while prioritising investments in digital and physical infrastructure to reaffirm our place as a true air cargo partner of choice”.