IAG moves to a Latin beat

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IAG Cargo and LEVEL announce the restart of flights between Barcelona and Chile


IAG Cargo, the cargo division of International Airlines Group (IAG), has resumed its regular route between Barcelona and Chile for the first time since the pandemic, as it boosts its services to Latin America. Using a LEVEL Airbus A330-200 aircraft, the route will run four times a week directly into Santiago de

Chile International Airport, marking a return to IAG Cargo’s offer- ing before COVID-19 forced it to be temporarily paused.

Home to two of IAG Group’s airlines, LEVEL and Vueling, the IAG hub is well-positioned to connect Latin America and the rest of Europe, with the cargo handler’s operations supported by an extensive trucking network into nearby countries.

This new route is set to bolster available cargo capacity, adding to the over 250 weekly services run by IAG Cargo from Europe to Latin American destinations, such as Brazil, Ecuador and Mexico.

Major trade route

Latin America is an important trade route for Europe and the UK for perishables, which have to be delivered quickly to ensure they make it onto supermarket shelves in top condition. Prior to 2020, the service provided vital connectivity for importers and exporters in both regions.

Consumers have become accustomed to enjoying fresh fruits out of season, with Latin American countries benefitting from increased demand for their produce. Popularity for Chilean perishables has grown, with, in particular, a rapid expansion of its cherry industry in recent years. Having a range of climates for farmers to grow cherries throughout the season, according to USDA data, Chile’s 2022/23 cherry crop year is projected to increase by 19.2% to 465,000 tonnes.

Additionally, services out of the region have proved particularly valuable to the automotive and manufacturing industries which utilise air freight. This connection is only going to be more critical, as the automotive industry continues to grow and, given the need to operate on a just-in-time basis, only air cargo can transport time-sensitive spare parts to its destination in hours rather than weeks.

“We’re delighted to be able to restart our operations between Barcelona and Chile to facilitate the movement of essential foods and support local farming communities,” Rodrigo Casal, regional commercial manager for Latin America at IAG Cargo, said. “Our Constant Fresh service for moving temperature sensitive perishables, ensures the produce arrives on supermarket shelves in peak condition.”

Read more: IAG Cargo trials new biodegradable film

Directly connecting both destinations

The resumption of this route means that LEVEL is the only airline that directly connects both destinations, opening up a strategic market for passengers and cargo. Given the importance of the route, it was crucial for IAG to do what it could during the pandemic to ensure that operations continued where possible. While this traditional route was paused, the company kept operating charters and cargo-only scheduled flights between Chile, Spain and other European destinations.

Throughout the pandemic, IAG Cargo was operating services out of Barcelona into Latin America nations, such as Argentina. This latest restart on its network will, therefore, provide customers with a wider range of options to get their goods to market. It’s a well-positioned hub in Europe, moving cargo from A to B via the trucking network and internal narrow body flights to other regional destinations.

Global network

The airline group now offers capacity to nearly every destination in Latin America which it operated pre-pandemic with over 250 weekly services and all utilising wide-body aircraft. This means that, every year IAG Cargo transports all kinds of exotic food, with more than 60,000 tonnes of perishables coming out of Central and South America, such as Peru’s green asparagus or Brazil’s papayas.

“During the pandemic, our top priority was to maintain a broad network for customers. Without a freighter fleet, we adapted our operations and quickly established a comprehensive network of scheduled cargo-only flying using the group’s passenger aircraft.

“Through our interline partners, an extensive trucking network and continued cargo-only services, customers were supported to get their goods to market,” Casal said.

“We’re certainly gearing up for the winter period, which will offer customers more uplift out of Latin America into Europe and UK.

“In 2023, we will have some exciting new routes to announce – so expect to hear more from us,” Casal added.

Read more: IAG Cargo delivers Q3 revenues of €373 million

Moves in the market

GrubMarket has completed the acquisition of Buenos Aires, Argentina-based Salix Fruits, a global fresh fruit importer and exporter with a wide portfolio of produce items ranging across apples, lemons, oranges, tangerines, pears, grapes and more. The company has hundreds of growers in more than 20 countries and serves over 450 customers across 50 countries worldwide, including Argentina, Chile, Brazil, South Africa, Spain, India and the US.

Salix Fruits is a leading company in the import and export of fresh fruit globally, shipping thousands of containers of product in 2021 and generating double-digit year-over-year revenue growth over the last several years.

“We are excited to join the GrubMarket team and welcome the opportunities brought forth by GrubMarket’s robust technology platform,” said Juan González Pita, COO of Salix Fruits.