Highflying freight

Highflying freight

We live in a fast-paced world where “instant” is the norm; people want what they want, when they want it … So, when you go global, it makes sense to transport freight on aeroplanes, right? We take a look at IAG Cargo to see what new developments this industry has to offer, right NOW!

The old adage, time is money, rings true in today’s hurried world as humanity scrambles to line its pockets and instant gratification is all the rage … But this isn’t, always, bad (despite it providing very high blood pressure for some) as speedy deliveries can make all the difference – especially when it comes to the pharmaceutical industry.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade association for the world’s airlines – representing 84 percent of total air traffic, pharmaceuticals are a critical industry that moves US$ 1 trillion (around R10,4 trillion) per year. “Temperature changes during transportation can be a serious threat to the integrity of these sensitive products,” IATA states.

It continues: “Transporting healthcare products by air needs the establishment of complex logistical methods to maintain the integrity of shipments. It requires equipment, storage facilities, harmonised handling procedures and, above all, strong cooperation among the cold chain partners.”

To address this, IAG Cargo – the single business created following the merger of British Airways World Cargo and Iberia Cargo, in 2011 – is expanding its pharmaceutical leisure area (so to speak), as it is offering more places where prescription drugs can “relax” before being flown to where they need to go.

This expansion of its Constant Climate network – IAG Cargo’s premium offering for precision temperature-controlled pharmaceutical goods – includes five new European airports. These are: Prague (the Czech Republic’s largest city); Vienna (Austria’s capital); Las Palmas (on the island of Gran Canaria in Spain); Basel (Switzerland’s third most populous city); and Zurich (home to Switzerland’s largest international airport). These join Dubai (in the United Arab Emirates) – also recently added to the network.

IAG Cargo’s expansion into these strategic locations allows it to support businesses operating from the key pharmaceutical hubs, most notably Switzerland, and marks the opening of the company’s 91st Constant Climate centre.

The opening of these new centres, according to IAG Cargo, is the company’s second phase for its Constant Climate network, which saw five new centres being added to the network in Latin America last year.

Now, when leaving Switzerland, exports are able to flow through two Constant Climate hubs in Madrid, Spain and London, England, with cargo then often being flown into the major growth markets of Latin America. In addition, IAG Cargo’s trucking network links these new centres with three hubs in Europe; London, Madrid and Frankfurt.

Alan Dorling, global head of Pharmaceuticals and Life Sciences at IAG Cargo, comments: “These additional centres mark our continued commitment to invest in our Constant Climate facilities. The opening of these centres is in response to the global demand for our specialist service, especially with the huge pharmaceutical manufacturing exports coming out of this region.”

He adds: “We’re fast becoming a world leader in transporting high-value, time- and temperature-sensitive products.” The company has also enhanced its South African presence, which is benefiting from its fleet modernisation programme … British Airways celebrated the start of commercial flights to Johannesburg on a brand new Airbus A380.

Replacing the Boeing 747 model on the route, IAG Cargo relates, the new A380 aircraft offers precision cargo transport opportunities for the South African market. The company also has specified air-conditioning capabilities for the hold, which will prove beneficial to customers wishing to transport temperature-sensitive cargo, such as perishables or pharmaceuticals.

The air-conditioning in the forward hold, and heating and ventilation in the rear hold, enables IAG Cargo to set and maintain hold temperature to 1°C accuracy.

But (as they say in infomercials), that’s not all: IAG Cargo has optimised its A380 for belly-hold cargo by purchasing two additional unit load device positions in the hold. The company will also be the first carrier in the world to receive an A380 with an improved maximum take-off weight, which is 12 tonnes heavier than other A380’s currently flying, allowing it to carry more cargo.

IAG Cargo’s fleet modernisation plans will span over the next ten years, which will see the delivery of 24 Boeing 787s, 12 A380s and six Boeing 777-300ERs. Additionally, IAG has ordered 18 A350-1000s and plans to convert options on a further 18 787s, subject to shareholder approval.

However, aeroplanes, like trucks, are made to operate … IAG Cargo has started to offer three additional flights on the busy London-Cape Town route this month, bringing the total number of weekly frequencies to ten.

The company adds that the new flights, serviced by a 777-200ER, will benefit businesses in the region by enabling greater capacity across the entire year, where other carriers typically only supply additional capacity seasonally.

“South Africa is a key global market for IAG Cargo, where it holds a good market share in a number of verticals including: perishables, automotive, clothing and the transport of live animals,” the company explains. This increase in frequency follows the announcement of additional routes to Austin (in Texas, in the United States) and Chengdu (in southwest China), as well as additional routes and frequencies into regions including India, Mexico and Hong Kong.

Tony Snell, regional commercial manager of Middle East and Africa at IAG Cargo, points out: “Since the departure of the home carrier from the Cape Town-London route we have offered a valuable service to businesses in the region, connecting them to London and the other 350 destinations on our global network. The additional frequencies will improve this service further and provide customers with additional flexibility of how they get their goods to markets around the world.”

The new flights support the existing daily flights, serviced by a Boeing 747, and depart from London on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays and from Cape Town on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

It would seem that “instant” will remain the norm, as our fast-paced world continues to pick up speed … But, when it comes to pharmaceuticals, perishables and live animals, fast-moving is the name of the game and IAG Cargo is ideally suited to handle this sensitive highflying freight.

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