On the carrier side, one of the most impressive improvements was seen at UPS Airlines, rising from 97 overall points and just missing a certificate last year to 113 points and a Diamond Award for carriers handling more than a million tonnes of cargo annually.
Jim Mayer, public relations manager for the giant integrator, said infrastructure improvements may have something to do with the turnaround in performance. In just the past six months, he said, the company has announced more than US$1.3 billion in facility construction and expansion projects, including Louisville Centennial, Jacksonville, Columbus, Atlanta and Salt Lake City. These are in addition to an ongoing project to invest $2 billion in Europe to enhance capacity and reduce time-in-transit, he said.
The most significant move for future expansion, he said, was UPS’ decision last year to purchase 14 new 747-8 freighters, with options for 14 additional aircraft. “Customers have been telling us they needed additional air capacity and we are ensuring we can meet that demand,” Mayer said. Three of the 747-8Fs should be in service by the end of 2017.
Platinum Award winner Cathay Pacific – which won Diamond in the million-tonne-plus category in 2015 – focused on improving its customer service in 2016, said Mark Sutch, general manager of the Hong Kong carrier’s cargo sales and marketing division. In the last year, Sutch said the carrier added scheduled freighter services to Portland International Airport in the United States and Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport in Australia. “In the short term, we are focusing our network growth through new passenger destinations and the belly capacity these next-generation aircraft, such as the A350, provide,” he said. Other new destinations included Madrid and London Gatwick in 2016, as well as Tel Aviv, Barcelona and Christchurch this year.
“It is a great honor to be awarded an Air Cargo Excellence Platinum award,” Sutch said. “In such a competitive market, with many other excellent carriers, being selected by customers around the world as a top carrier is something we are very proud of.”
China Airlines earned the Gold Award (105 points) for the large carriers by seeking out high-margin specialty cargo. “Rather than chasing kilos, CI makes efforts to exploit niche market opportunities and strengthen service quality and marketing channels,” said Eddy Lin, China Airlines’ vice president of cargo. To meet market demand, China Airlines launched Taipei-New Delhi-Luxembourg-Taipei freighter service last August and plans to increase the frequency in the second quarter of 2017. With e-commerce in mind, CI strengthened its collaboration with international couriers, SkyTeam Cargo and seafreight operators to develop new courier sources and joint sea-air business opportunities. “We are thrilled to share this prestigious recognition with entire China Airlines Cargo team,” Lin said. “The Air Cargo Excellence award has not only become an important benchmark for airlines, but also reflects the voice of industry customers.”