Air France-KLM-Martinair ups its express game

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Air France-KLM-Martinair Cargo has opened a new facility, HubExpress at its hub, Charles de Gaulle Airport, to exclusively focus on products such as postal and express. With an investment of €22 million and partnering with Geopost and Sodexi Express, the airline hopes to benefit from increasing transit volumes and strongly compete with hubs like Frankfurt and London. The new HubExpress with eight entry points can cater to 450 daily flights and has a sorting capacity of 6000 parcels per hour. Aircraft are parked at a close proximity of 5 to 15 minutes away from this facility. However, the emphasis of the HubExpress is 90 percent dependent on belly cargo. Geopost will eventually increase its share from 25 to 35 percent. Béatrice Delpuech VP Express & Postal Solutions said: “As a lot of business goes from South Asia to Europe, we want to be in this business. We don’t want to only compete with hubs like Frankfurt, but also with hubs like Dubai and Istanbul.” Integrators along with courier companies remain a key focus for the airline. “DHL is moving business from South America to South Asia, so we need to have a dedicated tool for this.” The airline is seeing strong demand from forwarders to have a dedicated express product. Meanwhile, cross-border e-commerce sales are expected to grow by 192 percent as of 2018, from $105billion to $307 billion. The HubExpress is confident about e-commerce as the latest wave of change. “E-commerce is something we cannot ignore anymore,” said Jérôme Balbi, CEO of Sodexi. As for future expansion plans, Balbi said, “We also want to offer solutions by road for the last-leg customers, where the cargo can be cleared in France itself.” Balbi admitted that one cannot compete with the capacity that Middle-Eastern carriers are offering, “But we can fight it with IT systems.”

For cargo, including express, Cargobus AFLS is currently being implemented that will allow a joint booking system. As for mail, there will be complete renewal of the management system over the airline’s worldwide network. Meanwhile, the airline is hopeful of returning to profitability with the departure of MD-11Fs and continued focus on high-yield cargo. “We have reduced exposure to freighters. They are more supplemental to our network, than a core focus,” said Bram Graeber, EVP-Air France-KLM Cargo. As news came last month about Alitalia to discontinue joint venture and partnership with Air France-KLM by January 2017, Graeber confirming this development said, “ Part of the agreement was very important cooperation in the cargo sphere where we have successfully marketed belly space for Alitalia Cargo. However, we will continue to service this contract all the way for the next two years as we have in the past. January 2017 in cargo terms is a long time from now, close to eternity.”

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