As passenger traffic recovers, alliances provide a strong foundation on which airlines are rebuilding their networks. These close partnerships and increased cooperation opportunities offer airlines a broader network scope than if they were a stand-alone carrier. The same is true of the cargo industry, where SkyTeam Cargo enables members to offer an extensive worldwide network of almost 800 destinations in 150 countries but most importantly, a unified product portfolio.
Partnerships help navigate issues, such new customs regulations, facilitate technology developments and promote best practice when it comes to making operations more sustainable, for example. They also stimulate interline traffic across networks.
In a recent study, SkyTeam Cargo looked at potential traffic flows outside the main, most common, routings. The findings showed that SkyTeam Cargo’s network covered most of the top 50 traffic flows in two to four different ways through different combinations of SkyTeam Cargo members. This means far more choice for its customers and greater optimisation of its members’ networks. The next step is to digitally offer all these different transport solutions to its customer base.
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20 years of tailor-made solutions
SkyTeam Cargo was a frontrunner in designing and implementing a dedicated product portfolio and twenty years on, this remains a unique offering within the industry. Having one branded solution built around four pillars with care as its theme means all our members offer the same product portfolio. During the pandemic, cargo was at the forefront of airline operations as passenger traffic fell away and having a clear product portfolio helped make navigating these changes and shipping cargo much more straightforward for customers.
“Given SkyTeam Cargo members’ experience of handling specialised pharmaceuticals, we were quickly able to develop and launch a new product for the handling of COVID vaccinations,” Nico van der Linden, Vice President of SkyTeam’s Cargo alliance, said.
Being part of SkyTeam Cargo strengthens airlines’ brands and ensures product consistency, while enabling them to offer a greater number of destinations to customers through the interline opportunities offered across a huge, combined network. SkyTeam Cargo membership also provides more opportunities for synergies, for example shared warehousing and economy of scale for various services.
Giving customers confidence
SkyTeam’s product portfolio was designed to simplify international shipping of all types of cargo – from pharma and perishables to luxury goods – to almost 800 destinations in the world. The branded products are offered consistently across all SkyTeam Cargo members, ensuring bespoke and straightforward shipping solutions.
The key products and their benefits are divided into four categories: Express, General, Specialized and Customized.
Express: a product for expedited shipments of up to 100kg. This is designed to offer fast connectivity with late availability and includes Express Heavy for larger shipments requiring fast dispatch.
General works for both bulk and unit load device shipping modes, for all commodities not requiring specialist handling at economic pricing.
Specialized caters for atypical and high-value cargo shipments including aerospace parts, art, fashion, fresh produce, pharma etc.
Customized is a tri-partite contract between the shipper, forwarding agent and the SkyTeam Cargo airline delivering a personalized service.
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Challenges and opportunities
The pandemic was a huge challenge for the aviation industry, but for Cargo it also provided opportunities, as airlines adapted passenger aircraft to carry cargo in-cabin for example. SkyTeam Cargo also launched a programme called, V-Excellence, during this time to manage the transport of COVID-19 vaccine shipments under a new product brand, Customized Vaccines. This offers special handling and priority in addition to Specialized Pharma, the solution for pharma shipments.
“As the world gets back to business, we’re focused on delivering more sustainable operations, something that is growing in importance to customers across the industry,” van der Linden said.
Last year’s Sustainable Flight Challenge generated hundreds of innovations that are being shared across alliance members to encourage more sustainable air transport activities, including cargo operations.
“No single new innovation will have anywhere near as much impact as SAF and future fuel sources on its own. However, the aggregated value of these innovations will make a difference in the short term while the industry ramps up new sustainable fuel sources,” van der Linden explained.