A French airline launches into air freight
Many passenger airlines have expanded their cargo services out of necessity since the start of the COVID pandemic. Today, a charming French transporter is taking advantage of the crisis to start its freight operations from scratch.
The Company, which exclusively offers business class flights between New York and Paris, recently began carrying cargo for the first time in the belly of its Airbus A321 Long Range as it seeks to capture the ancillary activities of a high-yield sector in times of scarcity. cargo space. The airline said it awarded Worldwide Flight Services a three-year contract to load, pack and unload shipments.
The A321 Long Range aircraft can carry 244 passengers in normal configuration, but La Compagnie’s business passenger service has only 76 fully reclining seats. This leaves additional room for up to 3.9 tonnes of freight, WFS said in a press release.
Providing freight service, which is common for most passenger airlines, is something The Company has never had time to properly prepare for since its inception in 2014, told American Shipper Anne Crespo, responsible for airline marketing and communications.
âAs a start-up, we didn’t have time to work on it before. Our efforts have been focused on providing a state-of-the-art business class experience to our passengers. With COVID-19, we have suspended our flights and taken the time to comply with necessary cargo requirements. We have a lot of luggage room on our passenger flights, so we can take cargo on top of that, âshe said in an email.
The main customers of the freight service are expected to include luxury goods and fashion brands, Crespo added.
The Company is increasing its schedule between Newark International Airport in New Jersey and Paris Orly Airport from four flights per week to seven in September. It also offers seasonal service between Newark and Nice, France, until the end of September, as well as seasonal service from September 5 to the end of the year between Paris and Tel Aviv, Israel. And at the end of November, the carrier will begin flying between Newark and Milan, Italy.
Freight service may be extended to the Tel Aviv route, but not between Newark and Nice as the plane needs more fuel capacity, Crespo said.
Worldwide Flight Services also has ground handling contracts with La Compagnie Ã Newark for its passenger and ramp services to Paris Orly and Nice.
Getting into freight
Huge demand for air freight and high yields during the pandemic prompted many airlines to focus more on freight than in the past, when freight was often an afterthought. Almost half of normal cargo capacity left the market when passenger airlines grounded flights, straining supply chains. Airlines quickly pivoted to temporarily redeploy many planes as temporary cargo ships to help move essential supplies, including personal protective equipment. The supply shortage has dramatically increased rates from pre-pandemic levels, helping airlines record significant gains in freight revenue.
International flights which are important to the cargo markets are still limited due to travel restrictions. The pandemic has also accelerated the trend of online shopping, creating a strong demand for rapid e-commerce deliveries made possible by air travel.
With air freight expected to grow at an annual rate of 4% to 6% and a tailwind of e-commerce that could grow even higher, several passenger carriers are making long-term commitments to expand or add freight capabilities. .
Before the pandemic, leisure airline Sun Country (NASDAQ: SNCY) and regional carrier Mesa Airlines (NASDAQ: MESA) diversified their businesses by launching freight divisions to serve Amazon Air (NASDAQ: AMZN) and DHL Express, respectively.
The recognition that freight could be more lucrative than in the past recently prompted Air Canada (OTCUS: ACDVF) TO) to create a dedicated freight division. Latvian carrier SmartLynx has also launched a freight division to transport Airbus A321s converted for DHL to Europe. Lufthansa Cityline, a regional passenger carrier, will start flying A321 cargo ships for its sister company Lufthansa Cargo next year. And the maritime carrier CMA CGM has launched its own cargo airline with a widebody fleet operated by the tourist carrier Air Belgium.
Click here for more FreightWaves / American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch.
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