American Airlines (AA) provides more than 100 million pounds of weekly cargo lift to major cities in the United States, Europe, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Latin America and Asia. From perishables to life-saving medicine, the carrier is involved in transporting critical goods around the world.
In the commercial space, AA has always been trusted to move the most important, time-sensitive goods, whether it’s the latest phones that are needed on the shelf at first launch, or manufacturing components that keep assembly lines moving for the some of the world’s greatest products.
“Every day our teams are involved in transporting important, life-changing products all over the world, and it is incredibly rewarding to be a part of that process,” Brian Hodges, Managing Director of Strategy and Planning at AA Cargo, said.
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Thriving in challenging times
Airlines have suffered through a turbulent time in recent years, with the pandemic forcing companies to adapt their operations to keep alive while passengers were stuck at home. The cargo-only wing of AA became one of their most valued accomplishments.
AA’s first cargo-only flights took off on a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft between DFW-FRA on 20th-23rd March 2020. “Our amazing Cargo Sales team booked these flights to 100% capacity within 24 hours of the flights being on the schedule. We worked with multiple teams across the airline to make this happen – making it our first cargo-only flight since 1984. We went on to operate more than 10,000 additional flights in the two years to follow,” Hodges explained.
There’s a lot of change happening right now, not just in the air cargo market but around the world and in the global economy. Inflation, increased interest rates and buyer hesitancy as prices increase has led individuals and businesses to take more frugal approaches, etc. These factors impact almost everyone, and air cargo is no different. The supply/demand relationship is changing due to these economic impacts, combined with an increase of capacity into the market as carriers re-deploy aircraft to meet passenger demand.
“Our plan is to continue maximising our current network capacity and seeing where we can solve for our customers even more, like through narrow-body connections or trucking,” he continued.
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The new normal
While AA recognises the airfreight market is on a journey back to pre-pandemic stabilisation, the carrier has also learned from the pandemic, approaching business a bit differently. Things that are being implemented in a different manner include industry collaboration, digital distribution and being able to offer customers more options.
“We’ve learned the importance of agility and adaptability these last three years, and we are focused on maintaining those positions as we evolve our business,” Hodges explained.
Digital distribution is a really big focus of AA right now – with both third party platform partnerships and its own booking channel on AACargo.com. 2022 brought about some very significant changes that improved the online experience and allowed its users to complete their transactions quickly and efficiently. Some examples include offering online booking for animal shippers, making changes to allotment bookings to allow for multiple and repeat bookings, and improving its capacity search tool to provide more confidence to users earlier in the booking path.