European Cargo and Cargo First Gear Up for Peak Season with Additional A340 Freighters

European Cargo and Bournemouth Airport’s in-house handler Cargo First are preparing for the addition of three more Airbus A340 freighters over the coming months.
The carrier, which operates flights between Bournemouth in the UK and China, will add its fourth A340-600 converted freighter in July, with two more to follow before October.
In turn, Cargo First has over the past year recruited 15 new members of staff to cover warehousing, aircraft handling and security roles.
At this stage, the airline has not confirmed on which routes the aircraft will be utilised.
Bournemouth Airport managing director Steve Gill said the airport is also looking at longer term infrastructure investment to add more dedicated cargo facilities at the airport.
The two companies said they are pitching the airport as an alternative to the constrained London hubs at a time when the Red Sea ocean shipping crisis is helping to drive air cargo demand.
They add that the air cargo peak season is fast approaching.
European Cargo’s existing A340 freighters operate from the UK airport to Chengdu and Haikou providing e-commerce capacity.
Gill said: “Our collaboration with European Cargo has established Bournemouth as a reliable and cost-effective hub for e-commerce and other air freight into the UK, with a proven track record of delivering a highly efficient service for time-sensitive consignments for our customers.
“With European Cargo’s additional freighters coming on stream shortly and the constraints facing other UK hubs, we see a significant opportunity to grow the market further as we ramp up for the peak season.”
European Cargo’s chief executive Jason Holt said: “We recently celebrated the first anniversary of flights from Bournemouth to Chengdu and in our first year operated almost 300 flights carrying some 20,000 tonnes of cargo.
“With our fourth fully converted long-haul freighter expected to enter service in July and two more by October, we see continued growing interest in our aircraft and services. We continue to gear up to handle the autumn peak and accompanying additional services coming on stream in the next few months.”
The A340-600 long-haul freighter aircraft offers a payload capacity of 76 tonnes and a cargo capacity of 440 cu m.
European Cargo’s A340 aircraft have been converted with a bespoke in-cabin pod containment system to add to belly capacity, but do not have a cargo door.

Etihad Cargo to Boost Belly Hold Cargo Capacity with 100 New Weekly Passenger Flights

Etihad Cargo, the cargo and logistics arm of Etihad Airways, will provide its customers and partners with increased belly hold cargo capacity across its global network starting from June 2024. The carrier’s summer schedule will introduce 23 passenger flights to new destinations and increase passenger flights to existing routes by 77 per week, totalling 100 new weekly passenger flights.
Popular seasonal destinations in Europe return to the carrier’s schedule, and Etihad Cargo will offer additional belly hold cargo capacity to Spain, Greece, and France and launch a new route to Turkey. From June, customers will be able to book cargo capacity on three weekly passenger flights to Malaga and two flights per week to Nice. In addition to increasing the flights to Athens to 14 per week, two flights to Greece’s capital will operate via Myknos, and two flights will operate via Santorini. The airline will also launch a new route to Antalya via three weekly flights in addition to increasing weekly flights to Istanbul from ten to 14 from 22 July. Etihad Cargo’s customers will also benefit from increased cargo capacity for Dublin, with three more flights being offered from 23 July, bringing the total number of flights to the Republic of Ireland’s capital to ten per week.
Etihad Cargo’s partners and customers will have access to increased belly hold cargo capacity in the Middle East. In addition to three passenger flights to Al-Qassim in Saudi Arabia, a new destination for the carrier, the airline will also increase frequencies to Middle Eastern destinations by 32 flights per week. This includes seven additional flights to Amman, bringing the total to 14 per week, seven more flights to Kuwait, bringing the total to 28 per week, two more flights to Bahrain, Beirut and Muscat, five more flights to Doha, and, by mid-July, flights to Cairo will have increased to 28 per week.
The carrier’s India network will grow to include four weekly flights to the new destination, Jaipur. Following the launch of Thiruvananthapuram to the carrier’s 2023 winter schedule, weekly flights will increase from seven to ten per week in response to increased demand. Two new flights to Ahmedabad will bring the weekly total to 17, three new flights to Bengaluru will bring the weekly total to 17, and flights to Kolkata will increase by one to eight per week.
Strengthening its commitment to the Asian market, the airline will also launch a new route via four weekly flights to Bali. Additional belly hold capacity will also be offered via an extra weekly flight to Bangkok, bringing the total to 18; eleven more flights to Colombo, bringing the total to 27; three more flights to Karachi, bringing the total to 17; and four more flights to Seoul, bringing the total to 11.
Stanislas Brun, Vice President Cargo at Etihad Cargo, said: “With the launch of its summer schedule, Etihad Cargo will deliver significant benefits to its partners and customers, thanks to the added belly hold cargo capacity and enhanced connectivity to key markets. The expansion of the airline’s passenger network, in combination with Etihad Cargo’s regular and charter freighter services, will substantially increase cargo capacity across Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Introducing new routes and increased frequencies will reinforce the connections between Abu Dhabi and major global markets, effectively meeting the growing demand for cargo capacity.”
In March 2024, Etihad Cargo launched a fourth US gateway destination, offering belly hold cargo capacity to Boston via four weekly flights. Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2024, the carrier is committed to continuously evaluating its network, increasing frequencies, launching new destinations and expanding cargo capacity to better serve its customers and remain the air cargo partner of choice.

Challenging Satellite Transport Mission Completed by Antonov Airlines and Proair

Antonov Airlines and charter firm Proair have transported a satellite and supporting equipment from Turkey to the US utilising one of its AN-124-100 aircraft.
The Türksat 6A satellite was transported in a special container fixed to the frame. For loading the piece into the cargo cabin of the AN-124-100, a low-profile cargo ramp was used in combination with external cranes.
Antonov Airlines commercial executive Vladyslav Ishchuk said: “For our cargo loading department, this project became a challenge. There were doubts the possibility of loading the satellite on board the AN-124-100 because of the height of the container – 414.6 cm, while the size of cargo door cabin is 440 cm.
“Also, we understood the importance of this transportation and did everything possible to successfully complete this mission. We thank our partners and customers for their trust and effective cooperation.”
The logistics of the mission were planned for six months and the entire air transport mission lasted 39 hours.
“It was imperative to carry out the transportation exactly on time for the launch,” the company said.
Muhammet Davut Yüce, managing director of Proair Aviation & Charter Türkiye, added: “In this project, which required much more detailed work than traditional charter flights, every aspect of the process was meticulously handled, and our excitement persisted until the very last material was unloaded from the aircraft.
“We extend our gratitude to Tübitak Uzay and all stakeholders for placing their trust in us.”
The Türksat 6A satellite is the first geostationary communication satellite built in Turkey, which is aimed at expanding the country’s space capabilities. It will be launched by SpaceX.
The Türksat 6A satellite will serve end users in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and much of the Asian continent, as well as Turkey.

Lufthansa Cargo Launches Regular Freighter Flights to Riga Airport, Enhancing Baltic Connectivity

Lufthansa Cargo has launched regular freighter flights to Riga Airport to meet demand from manufacturers and importers in Latvia.
The new service will operate once per week utilizing one of the carrier’s Airbus A321 freighters, which offer a capacity of 28 tons.
With the new service, Riga becomes the only Baltic airport to have a regular freighter flight from Lufthansa Cargo.
RIX Riga Airport said that the new flights will allow Latvian manufacturers to plan ahead and reach markets in the Lufthansa network faster than previously. Local entrepreneurs in turn will be able to “import goods more conveniently and quickly at competitive prices”.
“The advantage of cargo flights is the ability to simultaneously carry larger cargoes without dividing them into several flights, and the ability to transport bulky cargo that cannot be accommodated in passenger aircraft,” said Eligijus Jentkus, head of air cargo development at RIX Riga Airport.
“Lufthansa Group is a long-term and stable cooperation partner of Riga Airport, and we are happy that it is Riga Airport that becomes the first Baltic airport where Lufthansa Cargo starts such regular air cargo flights.”
Henning Oldendorf, Lufthansa Cargo head of sales and handling Nordics and Baltics, added: “We are happy to offer freighter capacity now also in the Baltics. Riga is a very important location for the computer parts and healthcare industry, but we are happy to offer this to any industry in need of fast freighter capacity.
“The new connection is also very important for the development of the region, as the air cargo business at RIX Riga Airport continues to grow.”
Currently, the volume of air cargo transportation in Latvia consists of four main areas of activity – the export and import of high-value goods, the transportation of mail and e-commerce items, transit air cargo services, and the transit of non-military goods.
In 2022, Riga Airport announced a new strategy that aimed to see it handle over 48,000 tons of air cargo a year by 2027.

NAM to Add Boeing 747 Nose-Loading Freighters to Fleet Through AAI Lease Deal

Network Airline Management will exclusively operate a fleet of nose-loading production Boeing 747 freighters from later this year.
The airline currently operates with two 747-400 production freighters and a single 747-400 converted freighter, which does not offer noseloading.
The two new aircraft will join NAM’s fleet in the latter part of the third quarter and the start of the fourth quarter. They will be wet leased from Air Atlanta Icelandic (AAI).
The last remaining B747-400BDSF converted freighter will leave the fleet later this year.
Jonathan Clark, Network Aviation Group’s chief executive, said: “Operating a fleet of B747 nose door aircraft with their higher payload and nose door loading capability fits perfectly with NAM’s flexible business model, providing the ideal platform to carry heavy outsize cargo for NAM’s scheduled flight program and worldwide charter availability.”
Andy Leslie, group chairman, added: “The additional aircraft confirms our commitment to work hand in hand with AAI in anticipation of our future transition to B777F aircraft.”
Baldvin Hermannsson, chief executive of Air Atlanta Icelandic, welcomed the new deal: “We are happy to further cement our long-standing relationship with Network Airline Management. The performance and professionalism of Network throughout the years makes us confident that the operation will be successful in the years to come.”
The carrier added its second production 747F to its fleet last year as it looked to expand its scheduled and charter operation. The scheduled network is concentrated on Africa.
The aircraft joined the fleet based at Network’s European hub at Liege Airport.

MSC Air Cargo to Use AlisCargo’s 777 Freighter Following Acquisition

Milan-based airfreight carrier AlisCargo Airlines is preparing to restart operations with a 777 freighter that will be flown on behalf of MSC Air Cargo.
This follows Mediterranean Shipping Company’s (MSC) majority stake acquisition in AlisCargo Airlines last year and subsequent 100% takeover this year.
AlisCargo received its AOC in July 2021 and had been operating preighters during the pandemic, but its operating license was suspended last year by the Italian civil aviation authority, prior to its acquisition by MSC.
Associazione Aeroporti Lombardi (Lombardy Airports Association) said in a LinkedIn post in May, “The Boeing 777 freighter is now ready and will be included in the Italian AOC of Alis Cargo and will fly on behalf of the new owner MSC Air Cargo, an airline of the Aponte group.”
The organization added that MSC livery has been added and test fights have been carried out.
MSC Air Cargo launched operations in December 2022 and adopted Liège Airport as its European hub.
At the beginning of this year, the last of four newbuild Boeing 777 freighters was delivered to Atlas Air, which is operating the aircraft under an ACMI agreement with MSC Air Cargo.
MSC also expanded its air cargo network in the last quarter of 2023.

Resilient Air Cargo Market Surges with 11% Year-on-Year Growth in March

Global air cargo market demand rose +11% year-on-year for a third consecutive month in March as buoyant e-commerce volumes and concerns over the impact of conflict in the Red Sea region on ocean freight services delivered an unexpected first quarter bonus for forwarders and airlines, according to the latest weekly market data from Xeneta.
In what are typically weaker months of the year for the airfreight industry, these higher volumes outpaced growth in capacity supply in Q1, which increased by +8% YoY. In turn, this produced a jump in the global dynamic load factor, which is Xeneta’s measurement of cargo capacity utilization based on volume and weight of cargo flown alongside capacity available.
Load factor in the opening three months of 2024 rose +2% pts YoY to 59%, and March performance has shown similar growth, edging up to 61%.
“While this latest monthly data should be balanced against the lower base recorded in the corresponding month of 2023, when we saw weakened global manufacturing activities, Q1 2024 has still seen a surprisingly busy airfreight market. The level of demand in the first quarter doesn’t indicate a market which is running out of steam so far,” said Niall van de Wouw, Xeneta’s Chief Airfreight Officer.
“The question is, should we be surprised by it, or should we get used to it? Although the market didn’t benefit immediately, the Red Sea disruption was clearly a factor in these latest figures. Airfreight growth was primarily driven by increased volumes from the Middle East and South Asia as shippers shifted services from ocean to air to avoid Red Sea delays. We also cannot underestimate the importance of e-commerce growth, which shows no sign of abating on its most prominent lanes.”
Subsequently, the average global airfreight spot rate in March increased +7% from the previous month to USD 2.43 per kg.
On the corridor level, as highlighted, the Middle East and South Asia to Europe market continued to lead the growth of air cargo rates in March as the influx of air cargo demand caused by Red Sea concerns squeezed capacity on these lanes. The average spot rate on this corridor jumped +46% over February’s level to USD 2.82 per kg, up +71% year-on-year.
This was especially seen for the India outbound market, where the India to Europe air cargo spot rate in March rose 68% month-on-month to USD 3.38 per kg.
In contrast, the average ocean containerized spot rate on the India West Coast to North Europe lanes experienced a -9% decline in March after its peak in February, although this remained +340% above the level in December, prior to the Red Sea disturbance.
The Middle East and South Asia to US air cargo market followed suit. Its average spot rate of USD 4.03 per kg in March was up +35% month-on-month and +51% year-on-year.
In comparison, the air cargo spot rate from Europe to US increased only marginally by +3% month-on-month to USD 2.12 per kg due to this corridor being less impacted by the Red Sea.
The China outbound market experienced a decline in its spot rate versus February 2024 as the market cooled down after the Lunar New Year. The China to Europe spot rate decreased -3% month-on-month to USD 3.64 per kg. However, it increased +5% over the previous year, boosted primarily by e-commerce demand and the modal shift away from the Red Sea. Similarly, the China to US market spot rate of USD 4.06 per kg slipped down -2% month-on-month, although, year-on-year, growing e-commerce demand and delayed recovery of belly capacity contributed to a noticeable +15% average jump in spot freight rates.
The South America outbound market registered the largest decline among the top global air cargo corridors. As floral market demand eased, the South America to US air cargo spot rate dropped -12% from the previous month to USD 1.25 per kg in March, down -7% on the previous year. The South America to Europe market experienced a similar trend, with spot rates averaging USD 1.75 per kg, a fall of -18% month-on-month and -11% year-on-year.
March data shows freight forwarders continued to purchase a larger share of volumes on the spot market as they kept their options open pending an anticipated cooling down of the Red Sea disruption, and to benefit from the traditionally more imbalanced demand/supply ratio caused by the influx of airline belly capacity at the start of summer schedules. In the first quarter of 2024, the share of volumes in the spot market accounted for 43% of the total market – compared to 31% in the corresponding pre-pandemic era – as expectations of a ‘normalization’ of the cargo market prompted freight forwarders to take short-term risks in the spot market in the hope of longer-term gains.
Similarly, in the first quarter of 2024, more shippers pivoted away from longer-term global air cargo contracts to short-term capacity commitments, with three-month contracts accounting for 41% of all newly negotiated contracts in this quarter, up +18% pts from the previous quarter. The preference for six-month contracts declined 23% pts versus the previous quarter.
“The air cargo market has clearly enjoyed a stronger-than-anticipated start to the year, but there’s a different quarter coming along and more capacity coming in, so we do expect an overall downward pressure on load factor and rates, aside from selected corridors where the continuing rise of e-commerce and the residue of the Red Sea uncertainty will continue to boost rate levels.
“But this is now six months in-a-row that the air cargo market has been stronger than we expected. When is it going to slow down? Only time will tell but, right now, airfreight demand is surprisingly resilient.”

Cathay Cargo Resumes Ho Chi Minh City Freight Flights After Four-Year Hiatus

Cathay Cargo has resumed Ho Chi Minh City freighter flights after a four-year suspension due to the pandemic.
A flight carried out on April 4 was the first since December 2019. The weekly flight, CX3148, will operate from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam every Thursday, with the freighter first originating from Hong Kong to Hanoi, then routing to Ho Chi Minh City before returning to Hong Kong.
This will supplement Cathay Cargo’s current six freighter flights per week from Hanoi to Hong Kong.
Cathay Pacific has been operating passenger services between Vietnam and Hong Kong since 1949. The very first flight carried a significant amount of cargo, including diplomatic mail as well as seafood and vegetables.
Testament to the significance of the Vietnam market to its global freighter network, Cathay Cargo commenced full freighter services from Ho Chi Minh City and then Hanoi in March 2008.
In 2023, Cathay Cargo shipped an average of almost 2,000 tonnes of cargo from Vietnam every month, of which about 600 tonnes were carried on Cathay Pacific’s twice-daily passenger flights from Ho Chi Minh City.
These comprised mainly garments, footwear, fruits, and live and frozen seafood, headed to key destinations such as Hong Kong, the Chinese Mainland, North East Asia, Australia and North America.
In addition to greater cargo capacity, the resumption of the freighter service will give shippers in Ho Chi Minh City access to Cathay Cargo’s main-deck solutions, namely Cathay Expert for odd-sized shipments, as well as freight designated as Cargo-Aircraft-Only, such as certain dangerous goods.
Regional head of cargo southeast Asia Ashish Kapur said: “We are very excited to welcome our freighter back to Ho Chi Minh City again. With factory activities resuming and air cargo demand picking up, it is timely for us to resume our freighter service from the economic heart of Vietnam.
“Together with our existing twice daily passenger flights serving the city, the addition of our freighter service will give local businesses more choices, especially in terms of our specialised solutions that can be tailored to suit their needs.
“Whether it is the latest fashion wear from the factories, fresh dragon fruit from the farms or live seafood from the ocean, we are committed to partnering with them on their journey to bring the best of Vietnam to Hong Kong and the rest of the world.”
Country manager for Vietnam and Cambodia Nicolas Masse said: “Our dedicated team in Ho Chi Minh City has been eagerly awaiting the resumption of our freighter service. We have been working hard to ensure we are operationally ready on the ground and able to respond quickly to our customers’ needs, whatever they may be. Our team of experts are certainly looking forward to working with our cargo handling agents to deliver the best service to our customers.”

One Air Launches Cargo Operations at East Midlands Airport, Expanding Global Connections

One Air, the British cargo airline, has commenced operations at East Midlands Airport (EMA).
The central UK airport will now be a regular origin and destination point for One Air’s Boeing 747-400 freighter services connecting Asia and Europe as well as for ad hoc global charter services.
“East Midlands Airport has a lot of important plus points which make it attractive for all-cargo operations, including the availability of slots and fewer restrictions around night flying compared to other airports. EMA also has a very understanding and progressive attitude towards freighter operators. As a growing British airline, we look forward to establishing our presence at EMA and supporting our freight forwarding, logistics and charter clients moving goods to and from the UK,” said Chris Hope, One Air’s Chief Operating Officer.
One Air’s first flight into East Midlands arrived from Hong Kong at the weekend with a 105-tonne payload.
EMA boasts one-stop connections to 185 of the world’s largest cities, including New York, Singapore, Dubai, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Paris, and Mumbai, and is home to the UK’s most important express air freight hub. It enables cargo operators and their clients to move goods quickly and efficiently around the globe. The airport handles the equivalent of more than one million packages every night, and its cargo operation provides vital support to regional businesses, including those in the advanced manufacturing, aerospace, pharmaceuticals, and automotive sectors, contributing around £443 million GVA to the regional economy.
EMA’s Commercial Director, Chris Lane, added: “We’re absolutely delighted to welcome One Air to East Midlands Airport. They bolster what is already a highly successful, nationally significant cargo operation which benefits from a strategic central location, fewer restrictions than many other airports, and a team who are totally dedicated to providing a top-class service. We hope this is the start of a long-standing partnership with One Air to help us continue to provide seamless trade that powers the UK.”

FarCargo Unveils Direct Route from Billund to Newark for Fresh Salmon Deliveries

Faroe Islands-based carrier FarCargo recently launched its first transatlantic air cargo route for salmon shipments in March.

The planned outbound route is Billund – Faroe Islands – Newark, with a fuel stop in Keflavik (BLL-FAE-KEF-EWR), and inbound Newark – Billund (EWR-BLL).

A subsidiary of salmon farming business Bakkafrost, FarCargo used a Boeing 757-200 converted freighter, which it took delivery of at the end of last year.

The aircraft has a total capacity of 34 tons and 240 cubic meters and includes a cool cabin on the maindeck for perishables and pharmaceuticals.

Initially, the aircraft will carry out two rotations per week, increasing to five times per week later this year.

Swedish airline West Atlantic will operate the aircraft on behalf of FarCargo, until FarCargo is able to obtain an AOC.

Bakkafrost has been exporting salmon to the US for the past several years, and with the new direct route Bakkafrost can offer daily deliveries of salmon to customers in the US, marketed as Superior+ Bakka Salmon.

ECS Group company Nordic GSA will offer the airline’s cargo space from Newark to Billund and to the Faroe Islands.

Meanwhile, fellow ECS Group company Globe Air will market the sector Newark to the European Union.

Billund Airport will be FarCargo’s main hub in Denmark, connecting the eastbound and westbound route.

FarCargo’s operations are a new business perishables opportunity for the Faroe Islands as this is the first cargo aircraft to operate to and from the islands.

“The FarCargo team is eager to start the operation and look forward to an excellent cooperation with NordicGSA and Billund Airport, and hope that the markets in Denmark and Faroe Islands will take advantage of this new opportunity,” said FarCargo chief executive Birgir Nielsen.

“Billund Airport and Cargo Handling Billund Airport are delighted that FarCargo has chosen BLL as their cargo hub in Denmark,” said Jan Hessellund, chief executive of Billund Airport.

“Adding FarCargo to the growing freighter network in Billund Airport represents unique opportunities for our regional cargo community, while at the same time it supports our overall cargo strategy – to increase the share of flown cargo vs. trucked.

“Together with FarCargo and NordicGSA, we will work to make this route an instrumental part of Faroese and North American trade and a commercial airline success.”