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Cargo leads American/US Airways integration

By John W. McCurry on March 12, 2014

Cargo plays a major role in American Airlines’ operations, generating more than $800 million in cargo revenue annually, COO Robert Isom said during the Opening Plenary session at the World Cargo Symposium in Los Angeles.

“The opportunity for us in cargo is to provide incremental revenue for the airline without significant costs,” Isom said.

That, Isom said, requires finding new ways to meet changing customer needs and involves becoming more efficient and faster. Isom told the more than 1,000 delegates that cargo is setting the pace for integration of US Airways operations. He said it means building off a comprehensive network with one of the newest and most fuel-efficient fleets.

Isom said American’s fleet-renewal plan involves bringing in more than 150 wide-body aircraft over the next few years.

“For example, our newest aircraft, the 777-300ER, allows us to carry more cargo than ever before. Earlier this year, we set a new system-wide record for the total amount of cargo loaded–over 100,000 pounds. That was on a Triple-7 from here at LAX to London’s Heathrow…Our first Boeing 787 joins the fleet late this year, and its fuel efficiency and range will provide an opportunity to connect cities that aren’t possible right now.”

Isom said as the Dreamliner replaces some of the 767s in American’s fleet, it offers new ways to load belly cargo. A 787 has 28 pallet positions compared to the 767’s 15. American will also be adding 22 A350-900s to its fleet in 2017, further increasing its cargo capacity, he said.

 “One of the great things about this merger is that we’re bringing together two complementary networks – which means we can fly people and products to more locations than ever before,” Isom said. “Together with American Eagle and US Airways Express, our two airlines operate an average of nearly 6,700 flights per day to 339 destinations in 54 countries from our hubs – including our hub here in Los Angeles."

Isom said movement of pharmaceuticals will play an increasingly important role for American Airlines Cargo. He cited the recent investment in a new controlled-room temperature facilities at JFK and Heathrow. American will also soon break ground on a 30,000 square foot dedicated Cold Chain/Pharma facility in Philadelphia.

“We know that pharmaceutical cargo is one of the fastest growing markets – as economies evolve, they require vaccines and medicines,” Isom said. These are products that are time and temperature sensitive, and air cargo is the best and most efficient way to transport them.

Isom also cited American’s efforts in pushing forward the e-Air Waybill.

“We’ve been working to support our forwarders on the path to paperless operation. Last year, we signed the IATA Multilateral e-Air Waybill agreement, and we’ve been partnering with IATA to host workshops for our forwarders on the e-air waybill education and implementation."