For the first time between freight carriers from the U.S. and Asia, Japan’s All Nippon Airways Co. (ANA) and Chicago-based United Airlines are preparing to launch an air cargo joint venture that will help both carriers manage trans-Pacific shipments more efficiently.
On Friday, Nov. 21, ANA filed its application with the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism for antitrust immunity, which will help clear the way for the partnership to begin.
The two carriers are not exactly strangers, as both are members of the Star Alliance global airline network and have been participating in a similar agreement with their passenger flights since 2011. But once the legal hurdles are completed, ANA and UA will be able to jointly manage scheduling, pricing and sales of trans-Pacific cargo, making it easier for both carriers to compete with budget passenger airline. Shippers will also have more flexibility in choosing routes and finding cargo space.
ANA also has plans to launch a similar cargo venture with Germany’s Lufthansa Cargo AG between Asia and Europe later this year or in early 2015. The carrier already has passenger joint ventures in place with Lufthansa, Swiss International Air Lines and Austrian Airlines.
United Cargo, which manages shipments on more than 700 United passenger aircraft worldwide, has seen revenue-tonne-kilometers rise 12.3 percent in the first three quarters of 2014, compared to the same period in 2013. ANA Holdings expanded its cargo operations about five years ago, forming the ANA Cargo unit to manage the ten 767-300 freighters that operate from the carrier’s cargo hub on the island of Okinawa.