Analysis: Atlas Air and ATSG spread their wings in an air cargo boom
From the aircraft producers to the carriers, via the forwarders and lessors, we live in ...
You might think that the only airline in the news recently has been United and its now-famous overbooking incident. They may have had less coverage – but other carriers have quietly created some headlines. Here is a round-up from the holiday weekend.
We may as well start with United Airlines again. Yesterday, it announced its results, revealing a first-quarter net income of $96m, down an unpleasant 69%, on revenues of $8.4bn, up 2.7%. Cargo revenue, however, was up 13.4% to $220m. Cargo ton miles rose 20.3%, year-on-year to 748m. United may be finding passengers difficult to handle, but freight is faring better.
In Turkey, CargoForwarder asks whether the referendum, which gave the scary President Erdogan greater powers, would impact Turkish Airlines. The president has already put the government’s holding in the airline, and in other companies, into a sovereign wealth fund, which would allow it access to cheaper funds. But CF notes that Europeans are not so keen on holidaying in the country due to the fear of terrorism, political unrest and repression. Turkish had an operating loss of €279m last year, has cut capacity and narrowed its network. And there may be more metal shed.
Qatar Airways is moving more heavily into India, meanwhile. It has asked for more than double its present capacity, including slots at seven additional airports, taking it up to 21 destinations in the country.
Two cargo airlines have decided to move passengers as well. Cargo Facts reports that Bulgaria’s Cargo Air, which operates mostly on behalf of DL Express, has opted for self-loading freight due to the difficulty of finding conversion slots for one of its two 737s, which can’t be changed until October. It won an AOC extension to be able to carry people this month and has started services.
And cargo airline Silk Way has announced an order with Boeing to buy 10 737MAX8s, which start delivering in 2018. Its existing fleet comprises IL-76s, marking a significant departure from its business model.
Cargo group ATSG has made its first foray into China via its joint venture with the wet-lease of two 737-400Fs to partner Okay Airlines. Subsidiary Pemco will convert them for delivery late this year, said the group, in advance of the launch of the JV cargo airline – now to be called BrightStar Express.
In other freighter news, Cargolux has had a shocker, and no doubt someone’s head will roll after a very expensive mistake. One of its aircraft has been stuck at Glasgow Prestwick after a helicopter it was carrying leaked hundreds of litres of fuel all over its cargo deck. It spent a week or two in Scotland drying out, before flying back to Luxembourg. There has been speculation that the shipper or forwarder – which apparently should have ensured the helicopter was safe to ship – may have to pay out a major sum for the mistake, which may also have been in breach of dangerous goods regulations.