Transatlantic trade boom as travel returns


The transatlantic corridor is one of the world’s most important trade lanes, and a vital part of IAG Cargo’s network.

Currently, serving 27 US destinations with over 400 weekly rotations from their hubs in Spain, the United Kingdom, and Ireland, IAG Cargo recently expanded its network to include Portland, welcome back Pittsburgh, and connect with Cincinnati. 

This expansion reflects their commitment to satisfying rising import and export needs of the region, allowing customers to benefit from a  larger network that covers six continents. 

“London Heathrow, is an important connector for North American trade, enabling access to destinations across Europe, Middle East and Asia,” Camilo Garcia Cervera, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at IAG Cargo, said. “As we approach the winter season, we’re looking to offer additional capacity across North America, to destinations such as Miami, Newark and New York.”

“Popular items shipped across this trade lane includes high volumes of automotive parts from Southeast Asia, transferred via Europe, into the United States, as well as food and drink, e-commerce items, and pharmaceuticals.”

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Return to pre-pandemic position 

Passenger travel is now closer to pre-pandemic levels due to an increase in demand, which is also contributing in an increase in freight capacity. 

This shift has led to changes in the dynamics between freight forwarders, airlines, and shippers, with an emphasis on optimising available capacity. 

IAG Cargo operates an airfreight network that uses the freight capacity of the passenger flights in the IAG group, through four hubs located at Dublin Airport, London Heathrow Airport, Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport and Barcelona Airport. 

“At IAG Cargo we are well placed to adapt and will continue to focus on how we can increase efficiency as a business whilst better serving our customers and colleagues,” Cervera said.

“The rise of passenger travel has allowed us to further enhance our network capacity offering more choice, greater flexibility over where and when customers can ship their goods.”

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Adapting to American alterations

The growth of e-commerce has had a profound impact on cargo volumes in North America. Increased online shopping has driven the demand for faster, more reliable shipping, influencing logistics and transportation strategies. 

“Air cargo is essential to many facets of modern life and we work with major global e-commerce brands to ensure their goods arrive from one side of the world to the other as quickly as possible,” Cervera explained.

Seasonable perishables out of the West Coast US are also driving demand on this trade lane, and in Midwest US, airfreight use within the automotive industry has been strong given the need to operate in a just-in-time basis where only air cargo can transport time-critical spare parts to its destination in hours rather than weeks.

“Earlier this year we opened a dedicated semi-automated facility, New Premia, at London Heathrow,” Cervera said. “New Premia is over 10,000 sq m, allowing us to handle more than double the number of premium shipments than before.”

The facility also contains a dedicated Constant Climate Quality Centre allowing the acceptance and storage of more temperature-sensitive cargo such as pharmaceutical and life-science products. With the value of US biopharmaceutical exports quadrupling between 2002 and 2022, this facility will benefit customers on both sides of the Atlantic whose goods transit via London Heathrow. 

Additionally, IAG Cargo announced last month that Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky International Airport would be the latest station in the United States to be approved to transport time and temperature-sensitive healthcare products. 

“The addition of Cincinnati raises the overall number of certified Constant Climate stations in the US to 21. Constant Climate is IAG Cargo’s cold chain solution for carrying pharmaceutical items, which saw a 45 percent rise in the amount of medicines moved over our network in the first half of 2023 compared to the previous year,” Cervera continued.