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HOW TO Freight


The perishables business is very seasonal


difference when it comes to network decisions on the passenger side. Obviously, that’s simply because passenger business is on average maybe 85% of the revenues, but it is also because cargo flows are much more concentrated than passenger ones. Cargo basically only moves between a few primary airfreight hubs, whereas passenger aircraft fly all over the place, and only occasionally go to one of those hubs.” This demonstrates why some airlines


Hiran Perera


have an innate advantage over others: cargo essentially is an export business. That means the strength of an airline’s cargo business is directly tied to the strength of its home country’s export market. There’s a reason why Lufthansa is based in Frankfurt; arguably the strongest airfreight hub in Europe.


That advantage is true for Germany and other central European countries, but especially true for Asia, where


places like Hong Kong or Korea or China, which are strong export


markets, also have a strong cargo carriers, such as Cathay Pacific and Korean Airlines.


Cargo crossroads Emirates is another airline that focuses on cargo. While Dubai may not create a lot of goods for export, its geographical position, and own strong economy, allows it to act as a cargo crossroads between Eastern and Western economies. Hiran Perera, senior vice-president,


cargo planning and freighters at Emirates, says: “At Emirates, cargo currently constitutes about 13% of the total revenue making it a significant part of


130 ISSUE 5 ROUTES NEWS 2017 routesonline.com


the overall business. Emirates operates a fleet of close to 260 all wide-bodied aircraft and this results in us being able to offer considerable cargo capacity on our passenger flights. For example, our Boeing 777-300ER aircraft [has] capacity of up to 20 tonnes per flight. [That means] deriving optimal revenue from belly hold cargo is important to us.”


While Dubai has managed to sidestep the lack of a strong export market, the US hasn’t as it is a net importing one. This is why US airlines such as American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines have relatively small cargo businesses and why they also don’t operate any freighters.


In and out of Africa The same can be said for Africa. It is often cited as a booming air cargo market and it is, to a point. For example, the amount of fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers being sent to the supermarkets of Europe is huge. Aside from these perishables, the continent only really exports raw materials, which go by ship. In fact, Africa’s rapidly growing economies mean it is a net importer. Lufthansa, for example, flies twice as much cargo to Africa than out of it. Other airlines, not based in strong exporting economies, almost exclusively import from Africa. There is very little trade balance. Von Hoensbroech says: “It’s about 80% of our business. But the big [problem] with the perishables business is that it’s very seasonal. You can’t run a steady operation on it and it’s very low value.” Emirates has the same difficulty, says


Perera: “Freighter route planning is different from planning for passenger routes mainly because of trade flows. Airfreight is directional and freighters w


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