Etihad Cargo’s new Boeing 777 Freighter flew for the first time from Milan Malpensa Airport in Italy to Bogota in Colombia on 7 April.
The service has been running since November 2014 with a wet-lease B747, and this is the first time Etihad’s own aircraft has operated on the sector.
The aircraft can transport over 100 tonnes of cargo on each flight and the carrier says it will strengthen the cargo division’s operation between South America and Europe.
The new aircraft joined the fleet at the end of February 2016 and takes Etihad Cargo’s dedicated freighter fleet to a total of 11 aircraft.
Etihad Cargo vice president, David Kerr says: “The aircraft will support the continuing growth of Etihad Cargo during 2016. We are adding to our fleet this year with a further aircraft on order and building our reputation globally as the trusted global carrier of choice.
“We have a commitment to working with clients to meet their specific requirements and it is their business needs which have driven the designs of our product range so that we are in close symmetry.”
Etihad Cargo currently runs specialised products for operators including four branded products; ‘Sky Stables’ for the equine industry, ‘TempCheck’ for the pharmaceutical market, ‘Safeguard’ to move valuable cargo with the highest degree of care and security and ‘FastTrack’, a premium service which includes priority handling.
Italy is already Europe’s third largest cargo market and Etihad Cargo says Milan is growing as an important European cargo hub.
Etihad Cargo and the airline’s equity partner, Alitalia, are able to offer capacity on freighters or in bellyhold for clients who are importing and exporting from Milan, while both carriers share a growing global network which customers can access.
Etihad Cargo’s freighter fleet includes four Boeing 777Fs, three Boeing 747s and four Airbus A330s. The cargo division of the national airline carrier of the UAE currently serves 14 freighter-only destinations worldwide from its Abu Dhabi hub and has freighter capacity on Etihad Airways’ fleet of over 100 passenger aircraft.
The Etihad Cargo division generates over $1 billion in revenue annually and reported strong cargo volumes for 2015, with 592,090 tonnes of freight and mail flown in total, a four per cent increase over 2014’s figures.
The cargo division also accounted for 88 per cent of cargo imports, exports and transfers at Abu Dhabi International Airport.