“Since our Cargo First brand launch in June last year, we’ve taken bold strides to solidify our position as a compelling alternative to congested London hub airports for time-sensitive cargo,” Bob Matharoo, Head of Cargo Development at Cargo First, stated.
Although the Cargo First brand is just a year old, the cargo operation at Bournemouth has been operational for three years, leveraging experience to catalyse industry transformation.
Over the past year, Cargo First has made significant inroads both operationally and in establishing itself as a trusted cargo service provider.
“We believe we’ve made significant progress both operationally and also in terms of being a recognised, accepted and trusted service provider,” Matharoo affirmed.
The Cargo First brand has now transcended regional boundaries, notably gaining recognition across vital global source markets, particularly in Southeast Asia.
Cargo First’s strategic focus on time-sensitive goods and e-commerce stems from the airport’s unique capabilities. While cargo handling processes may vary, Cargo First treats all consignments passing through its facilities as time-sensitive. The reasons behind this successful approach are manifold:
Situated a mere 90 minutes from London, Bournemouth Airport’s geographic proximity ensures swift deliver of consignments to customer warehouses in the London area. This swiftness outpaces consignments arriving at congested hub airports.
“We’ve seen the same sort of issues as the rest of the industry (particularly in the UK), anything from dealing with additional post-Brexit red tape to delays and issues in dealing with new UK Customs systems,” Matharoo explained.
“This said, we believe our headline benefits of having an uncongested facility with a flexible labour force means that we have a greater capability than most to react to and deal with hurdles as they arise”
Cargo First embraces an holistic “One Team” approach, encompassing vital services from airfield operations to aircraft handling and cargo terminal services. This streamlined integration circumvents unnecessary time and cost associated with multiple service providers.
The airport’s ethos revolves around simplicity, speed, and cost-effectiveness. This philosophy underpins every aspect of operations, ensuring swift and efficient cargo handling.
The recent establishment of an airfreight connection between Bournemouth and Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport in China showcases Cargo First’s commitment to elevating its e-commerce offerings.
This connection’s significance is profound; it expands capacity and frequency, enabling Cargo First and its clients to offer a more robust and flexible service to the market.
The choice of Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport as a partner is deeply strategic. Chengdu’s central location within China facilitates efficient road transport logistics to major manufacturing and consumer markets. Additionally, a supportive regional government underscores the significance of international air trade, fortifying the local economy.
“With significant additional airport infrastructure in the Chengdu city region coming on stream imminently, there will be plenty of airport capacity to support and safeguard future growth in air cargo,” Matharoo highlighted.
With congestion plaguing major Asian hubs, Cargo First aims to establish stronger links with regional facilities, offering relief to supply chain congestion both domestically and abroad.
This strategy has already borne fruit with the Chengdu link, which bypasses congested Chinese airports and opens the door to substantial future growth potential.
Cargo First’s aspirations extend beyond Chengdu. While the airport is a specialist in the e-commerce domain, the application of its “speed to market” principles and expanding facility capabilities open doors to opportunities beyond its specialisation.
Bob Matharoo emphasised this by saying, “We foresee clear opportunities in other global regions such as Africa and North America,” reflecting their mission to replicate their model with air links to regional facilities around the globe.
The time-sensitive market presents both opportunities and challenges. Cargo First acknowledges potential hurdles but is confident in its ability to navigate them.
“We believe our headline benefits… mean that we have a greater capability than most to react to and deal with hurdles as they arise,” Matharoo affirmed.
Pharma’s promising path
Cargo First’s immediate focus centres on scaling up its operations. Additional aircraft apron handling areas, expanded cargo handling warehouses, and future short- to medium-term handling warehouse capacity developments are in the pipeline. Moreover, Cargo First’s vast landside business park, adjacent to the airfield, offers substantial warehouse capacity. This initiative aims to simplify distribution into the UK market, empowering importers to unlock time and cost savings.
With an expanding pharmaceutical industry, Cargo First sees significant potential. Matharoo acknowledged that changes in the UK market position perishables as a substantial opportunity.
“Given changes in the UK market – not least airport capacity elsewhere – we believe that in volume terms perishables probably presents the largest near-term additional opportunity,” Matharoo stated.
“It goes without saying that the development of cold storage and other similar facilities for that market will then make any subsequent extension into pharma substantially easier for us.”