Following a very encouraging year in 2017, American Airlines Cargo is looking to explore new opportunities to exploit its vast network, managing director for Florida, Caribbean and Latin America, Lorena Sandoval (pictured) tells Air Cargo Week.
She says 2017 a very good year with strong growth, particularly for perishables being shipped into the US from Latin America. The whole American Airlines Cargo network grew 16 per cent in 2017, with Latin America proving an important part, and the region has had a very promising start to the year.
Sandoval says: “In Latin America and the Caribbean, we are exploring new opportunities that will help grow the business especially those that take advantage of our widebody network into both Europe and Asia.”
Perishables remain the main commodity exported from Latin America. The blueberry season has just ended and significant additional demand from US customers prompted American to do more domestic shipments than in previous years.
Sandoval adds: “In 2017, we also shipped a new type of mango from Peru and Ecuador, which was in high demand across Asia. Thanks to our experienced team, we were quickly able to marshal our resources to cater to this new business.”
With the blueberry season out of the way, now it is time for flowers, Sandoval comments: “We are coming up on the traditional peak flower season, when there will be huge demand on our flights out of Colombia and Ecuador into the U.S. and Europe. Of course, roses will be the No. 1 item shipped around Valentine’s Day.”
The products across the region have largely remained the same, but main variation is originating and final destinations. Sandoval says seafood shipped from Brazil to the US, Europe and Asia has grown most significantly over the past 12 months.
She adds: “Believe it or not, one of the biggest factors around change is the weather, which is something we’re always watching, as it impacts the growers and their changing production areas.
“But by working closely with our customers, we can develop plans to fly their goods out to meet their exact requirements. This is particularly true in Peru and Mexico.”
Customers across the region also benefit from American’s extensive widebody connections with the region, providing services from its hubs of Miami and Dallas Fort Worth to the rest of the network. Miami has been the traditional hub for Latin American traffic but Dallas is increasingly important due to a growing number of connections.
Sandoval says: “The nonstop service to Dallas is a unique connection for customers in Latin America, and our connections to Asia from there will be extremely popular in 2018. And out of Los Angeles (LAX), our Sao Paulo (GRU)-LAX flight offers quick and easy onward connections, as well.”
She believes the outlook is positive, with perishables continuing to prove important out of the region and product assembly parts moving into Latin America. American Airlines is also working on a more streamlined, paperless operation by encouraging the use of electronic air waybills throughout the network.
The main new opportunities are likely to come from Brazil and Peru in 2018, while Sandoval also predicts auto parts may start moving by air in greater volumes as manufacturers move away from the traditional ocean transportation.
Along with the ever growing demand for e-commerce, Sandoval is optimistic about the regions performance, saying: “It’s exciting to be engaging with new types of business in such a positive way.”