Qatar Airways Cargo saw double digit growth in 2015 and is expecting more for this year, with new routes and additional aircraft.
Chief officer for cargo, Ulrich Ogiermann tells Air Cargo Week (ACW) that between January and October 2015, Qatar Airways Cargo saw freight tonne kilometres (FTK) increase by 27 per cent and the airline will continue to grow into 2016. In December 2015 it added an Airbus A330 Freighter and a Boeing 747 Freighter to its fleet and it will have one more A330F and an additional three Boeing 777 Freighters in its fleet by the end of 2016.
He says: “Despite the challenging circumstances in 2015 for the air cargo industry as a whole, our combination of qualified staff, a flexible freighter fleet, a well-planned network and visionary management meant that we increased our FTK by 27 per cent January to October compared to 2014.”
Qatar will also increase bellyhold capacity as it takes delivery of more Airbus A350s. Ogiermann is very happy with the A350, and says it has significantly increased capacity to Singapore, on German routes to Frankfurt and Munich, and Philadelphia (US).
New York (US) services will receive an A350 from April. Ogiermann tells ACW: “We are celebrating our first anniversary of A350 operations, and this new generation aircraft has been a great addition to Qatar Airways from both a passenger and a cargo perspective.”
“We now have a total of seven A350 aircraft in the fleet and this is set to grow even further in 2016.”
In January, Qatar will be increasing services to the US, having started the year off with Boeing 777 flights to Los Angeles providing 80 tonnes of capacity on 1 January.
It will be increasing freighter services to Los Angeles from three to four a week from 19 January, adding 102 tonnes of capacity a week. On 19 January, Qatar will start freighter services to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, supplementing the daily passenger flights with bellyhold capacity.
Ogiermann says this follows additional routes added during 2015. He tells ACW: “The new routes added to our network in 2015 are meeting and even exceeding expectations in some cases.”
“Los Angeles is a good example of a new freighter route that has been so successful since its launch in April 2015 that we are adding a new freighter to the city, taking it up to four time weekly, from 19 January.”
Fresh products continue to remain an important import and export. Ogiermann says: “Our import market for fresh produce into the region is also steadily growing as the population of Qatar and other GCC countries increases, driving the need for fresh food and produce to supply the busy supermarkets.”
Pharmaceuticals are increasing, helped by the Pharma Express and QR Pharma product. Ogiermann says the Brussels – Basel – Doha Pharma Express has been so successful it has replicated it in India on Mumbai – Ahmedabad – Doha and Hyderabad – Doha routes.
Ogiermann says: “One of the greatest challenges that we can confidently say we have solved is the perception of customers regarding temperature control. Our quick transfer solution and temperature-controlled vehicles, which meet the aircraft on arrival at the hub, prevent heat exposure from the moment shipments arrive on the tarmac.”
He says Qatar’s pharma facilities at Hamad International Airport (HIA) include temperature controlled handling and storage, 64 temperature cells, a Quick Ramp Transfer, which Ogiermann claims is the fastest in Doha, as well as a dedicated climate control team.
Africa is a land of opportunity for Qatar Airways. He says: “Africa represents a huge potential with several opportunities mainly in the oil and gas, mining, telecommunications and perishables industries. We carry bellyhold cargo to 22 destinations in Africa and operate freighters to seven destinations.”
“Freighters were launched to Accra and Djibouti last year and these routes are performing very well. Both Accra and Djibouti are important markets for Qatar Airways Cargo and for the Middle East, and provide our customers with further gateways into Africa.”
There will be further expansion throughout 2016, including another European freighter destination and passenger services with bellyhold capacity to locations including Sydney and Adelaide (both Australia), Ras Al Khaimah (UAE), Atlanta and Boston (US) and Birmingham (UK).
The airline has also launched QR Equine to manage increasing demand for horse shipments. Ogiermann says: “Qatar Airways Cargo prides itself on giving our equine guest a five-star experience on board and on the ground at Hamad International Airport’s state-of-the-art AVI centre in Doha.”
It has also expanded its charter product, QR Charter, and added a 747F to its fleet to cater for increased demand from the oil and gas, construction, airline and entertainment industries. Ogerimann says: “This sector of the market will continue to grow for us in 2016.”
Ogiermann says Qatar Airways has doubled the tonnage it handles since 2010 and it will continue to grow. “We will continue to grow by matching the quantity of our capacity with the quality of our product, with particular focus on a successive launch of exciting new products, backed up by state-of-the-art ground infrastructure and a team composed of the best talent in the industry.”
Qatar Airways is constructing a second cargo terminal at HIA, which is scheduled for completion in 2018. It will provide an additional 100,000 square metres of space and three million tonnes of capacity. Capacity at Hamad will be increased to seven million tonnes after the current expansion plans are completed.