The anemic state of the oil and gas industry doesn’t seem to be deterring airfreight carriers from expanding service into Texas. Recent announcements this month from Russia-based AirBridgeCargo, and U.S.-based United Airlines Cargo promise an uptick in activity moving through Texas’ Houston gateway.
To start, on May 9, United Airlines announced a new code-share agreement with Singapore Airlines, set to begin on July 1. Although the two airlines have been partners through the Star Alliance since SIA joined in 2000, this will be the first time the pair has code-shared.
According to filings with the US Department of Transportation, the new agreement will initially give Singapore-based passengers access to eight onward destinations from United’s Houston hub. In the future the airlines seek to expand code-share flights to cover other SIA gateways in the U.S. While the accord serves primarily to increase passenger activity, the filing does include “property and mail.” Regardless of whether or not United will seek to route more cargo into Singapore and beyond through Houston, it seems AirBridgeCargo has taken notice of the agreement.
On May 23, AirBridgeCargo initiated its new weekly service between Houston and Abu-Dhabi, via Chicago and Luxembourg, with a 747-8 freighter. This new route complements AirBridge’s existing North American destinations, which include Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Atlanta. Aside from direct access to Europe and the Middle East, AirBridge added that Houston-area customers will also have access to “destinations such as Singapore and Johannesburg.”
“We can now provide a direct connection from the Houston area to key markets in Russia and the Middle East,” said Hendrik Falk, ABC’s vice president North and South America. “We expect that the oil and gas industry, in particular, will benefit from this new service and naturally our sales force will be developing this destination for other commodities too.”