Asia and the US are the most buoyant trade lanes for Qantas Freight and the main focus for the Australian carrier.
Qantas Freight executive manager, Alison Webster says both are in high demand across its freighter and belly network, while services between Sydney and Auckland are also very strong.
Domestically, Webster says the busiest lanes are from the east coast of Australia to Perth, adding: “Our same day services are highly valued on these routes – it’s worth keeping in mind there is almost 4000km of driving distance between Sydney to Perth, generally taking three days via surface methods of transport.”
Asia is key and two thirds of the 1750 international services Qantas offers cargo capacity on a week are to/from Asia. It is the airline’s core market and it operates the only direct freighter capacity between Australia and China in Shanghai.
Webster says overall, Qantas Freight is having a good year, and tonnage is consistent with last year, noting the carrier’s customer advocacy tracker is rising.
There has been high demand for quality Australian produce, which is driving growth in perishables exports and Webster says it is exporting high volumes of chilled meat, seafood, dairy, fruits and vegetables into Asia and the Middle East.
Free Trade Agreements established between Australia and China, Japan and South Korea are set to further drive the sector.
She adds: “We are in the final stages of putting in place a weekly flight from Hobart to Ningbo for a customer that is importing fresh Australian milk into China.”
Qantas signed an agreement with Sai Cheng Logistics International to fly airmail each week out of China to the US and Webster says so far it has gone well. “The uplift of China Post airmail is a welcome addition to our network and reinforces that the routing we operate is aligned to customer needs,” she adds.
As for its fleet and routes Qantas is preparing for B787-900 Dreamliners to enter the fleet in September, opening up new freight possibilities and routes have been added in Melbourne to Los Angeles and Perth to London.
In May, it added capacity on new Jetstar services from Sydney and Melbourne to Ho Chi Minh City, which Webster says are returning to Australia at maximum payload – mainly with garments, footwear and electronics. In January it added belly space on a new Qantas daily services between Sydney and Beijing.
In other plans, Webster says Qantas Freight is reviewing whether to go for IATA’s CEIV Pharma certification as this product is growing quickly in the region. It is also looking at expanding real-time tracking capabilities with new scanning and freight tracking technologies to meet customer demand.
E-commerce remains the biggest opportunity for the Australasian air cargo in Webster’s view and she says it welcomed a B737F in May for the Australia Post Group, which shows the increasing volume of parcels they are handling.