The EU-United States economic relationship accounts for a large share of global trade in goods and services. In support of the increasing level of business in the regions, major air cargo player AirBridgeCargo continues to invest in the size and capability of its modern freighter fleet. Vince Ryan, vice president, North and South America, AirBridgeCargo speaks to The STAT Trade Times about his assessment of the air cargo market, expansion plans and more…
What kind of volume growth did AirBridgeCargo (ABC) see between the US and Europe in 2016?
We continue to see positive growth between these two regions and carried around 60 thousand tonnes in 2016, an increase of 27 percent from 2015. In 2016 ABC has increased its presence in the US by adding Seattle twice a week to the network and Houston once a week and have reached 25 frequencies per week out of US by the end of 2016.
How do you think the business between Europe and United States is going to shape in 2017? How do you plan to facilitate the growing flow of air freight in an efficient and sustainable manner?
The demand for air freight in the beginning of 2017 is quite strong on all major trade lanes. We certainly expect to see growth in our own volumes between Europe and US in 2017 and have already seen strong customer support to and from the US in the first quarter of the year, our tonnage between the two regions increased by 8 percent YOY. Current exchange rate of Euro and US dollar is in favour for European exports, and we believe that it will continue through the year and will lead to strong demand from Europe to US.
In support of the increasing level of business in the market, we are continuing to invest in the size and capability of our modern freighter fleet. AirBridgeCargo has just taken delivery of its 10th Boeing-747-8F bringing its fleet to 17 Boeing 747 freighters. It’s not a secret that belly capacity dominates EU-US lane, but by operating freighters our network is being developed based purely on cargo customers’ demand. Our customers see this as ABC makes a strong commitment to the cargo market.
We will continue to increase our focus on higher value products that need special handling procedures, such as out-size cargo, dangerous goods and pharma shipments. We have recently moved to a brand new facility in Chicago in order to further improve the quality of our services.
What kind of policy and infrastructural changes could further give a boost to trade between Europe and US?
There are a lot of macroeconomic and political factors that influence the level of trade between countries. But we can agree that when there are less trade barriers and more clearance of rules by all parties, there will be a higher level of trade. Considering the fact that more and more mid-size companies increase their market presence in US as well as in Europe, they are without doubt even more interested in the transparency and clearance of the rules in trade and supply chain. As an airline, we do our best to make air transportation as transparent as possible for freight forwarders as well as for shippers and consignees.
What are the specific commodities that are most commonly transported between the two regions?
EU and US are among the largest world economies, with high concentration of innovative technology and advanced production and this surely reflects in the types of commodities transported between the two regions. The majority of cargo carried by air between these two continents consist of technologically advanced industrial machinery, medical, aerospace equipment and automotive components.
Which regions are you getting more traffic from?
From the US we now offer 25 flights a week and are serving six cities; Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and Seattle. Chicago is of course one of the major American cargo gateways and currently ABC has 12 frequencies from this airport which brings more traffic to us. But we continue to develop other stations in the region and the demand from them is growing.
What are your capacity addition plans to enhance trade between the two regions?
We are in a constant process of exploring new opportunities all over the world. From a strategic point of view we do plan to expand our presence in both regions, but the actual decision when and where will depend on changing market conditions. In order to be more proactive and deliver a consistently high level of service we are in continuous talks with our customers regarding their level of satisfaction, their future plans and wishes. So we will respond to new opportunities when they arise.