IAG Cargo hails success of renewed Kuala Lumpur route

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British Airways 777-300 ER G at Heathrow on 12 August 2014

IAG Cargo’s new route to Kuala Lumpur International Airport from Heathrow Airport has “exceeded” the carrier’s expectations since it was started a month ago, the group’s regional commercial manager for Asia Pacific, John Cheetham, tells Air Cargo Week.

Cheetham was speaking to Air Cargo Week (ACW) at an IAG Cargo media briefing today at the Mandarin Oriental in Kuala Lumpur on Friday 3 July.

IAG Cargo held the briefing after re-launching the route to the capital of Malaysia. The airline had operated a route until 2001, but stopped the service.

Cheetham explains to ACW why the route was brought back: “We feel Kuala Lumpur is a very strong destination for air cargo. Asia is the engine of growth for the world. Aside from the powerhouses of China and India, South East Asia is strong and in-depth and it presents opportunities.”

Cheetham says IAG Cargo has seen a, “high route load factor,” in the month since the route was started on 27 May, but he could not reveal the exact figure.

He says IAG stopped the route in 2001 due to the economic conditions, but this has changed considerably and IAG Cargo is also now able to use a more efficient cargo service. The carrier is operating a Boeing 777-200 extended range aircraft, which Cheetham says has a payload of 15 tonnes, but can sometimes hold up to 19 tonnes.

The service has been boosted by the timings. The Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur flight leaves daily at 20.15h and returns at 23.05h, which Cheetham says is, “perfect timing,” for cargo as it lands at 05.25h UK local time, meaning cargo can be sent on its route network or trucked there and then.

Cheetham tells ACW that in the first month there has been a good balance between imports and exports, similar to routes already operated to Hong Kong and Singapore.

He says of the cargo moved out of Kuala Lumpur in the first month, 30 per cent was perishables such as fruit, 50 per cent high-tech goods like electronics and machinery, 10 per cent rubber goods, five per cent just-in-time garments and the remainder general cargo.

As for imports they have mainly been aerospace products, machine parts, microchips, mainly high value cargo.

“It is not just about imports and exports as what we are seeing in Kuala Lumpur is the balance in the commodities in the area such as oil and gas, perishables, rubber and a range of commodities,” Cheetham explains.

Cheetham says Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) is growing at five to six per cent and in 2014 GDP was $23,900 per capita. In 2016, exports are forecast to grow 6.8 per cent and imports 6.9 per cent.

IAG Cargo’s cargo tonne kilometres in 2014 reached 5.6 billion, and the new route to Kuala Lumpur is hoped to boost this significantly.

Speaking at the media briefing, Malaysia’s trade ministry, the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation, said in 2014 the country’s trade was $443 billion, $234 billion in exports and $208 billon in imports.