Coyne Airways Forward-thinking

Published: Saturday, May 15, 2021

Coyne Airways, the pioneering non-asset-based cargo airline, is again leading the push for innovative and sustainable solutions as the air cargo industry takes on a greater role in the new normal amid the continuing fight against the pandemic.

Founded by aviation entrepreneur Larry Coyne, Coyne Airways started from humble beginnings more than 26 years ago with zero investment and no defined routes, but emerged as the top cargo carrier in the Caucasus, Central Asia, Africa and conflict zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Liana Coyne, Chief Operating Officer and Coyne’s daughter, who recently joined the Board of Directors of the global trade body, The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA), said liberalization for cargo flights and sustainability are the two most pressing issues confronting the industry right now.

“I would say that the two most pressing issues are liberalization and sustainability. Greater liberalization for cargo flights would allow the industry to be more efficient by being better able to manage asymmetrical flows as, unlike passenger flights, return loads are not always guaranteed. This would also eliminate some unnecessary flying to home bases, which would be better for customers and the environment,” she explained.

Adding, “Sustainability is a key issue for the industry and, at its essence, it is really imperative to take a long-term view. We need to do good for the planet, the people and the business to ensure our long-term survival.”

TIACA’s recently released sustainability report indicate that the majority of air cargo companies have concrete improvement action plans in place related to carbon reduction, waste management and energy as climate change continues to take its toll on our environment.

Drawing strength from TIACA

Amid the industry’s changing dynamic shift, cargo carriers and their supply chain are drawing strength from TIACA’s leadership to steer them to the right direction and be their voice on a myriad of issues.

Based in Miami, Florida, the non-profit group TIACA represents and unites all parts of the air cargo industry: shippers, forwarders, ground handlers, airports, airlines, manufacturers, IT providers, logistics, other groups connected to the industry, among many others.

Its vision is to keep a safe, profitable and united air cargo industry that embraces modern technologies and practices to sustainably and fairly serve trade and social development worldwide.

Coyne said the organization has worked tirelessly for the common good of all those in the industry as well as uplift its standards.

“I am thrilled to have joined the Board of Directors of TIACA, which is uniquely positioned to be the organization of choice for all actors in the air cargo community, regardless of size or market segment. TIACA has worked hard to become more transparent and responsive to members’ needs and it is focused on building on and enhancing its value proposition for members,” said Coyne, an Oxford-educated lawyer who was a law practitioner before deciding to join their family business.

“For example, in August 2020, TIACA joined forces with Pharma.Aero to launch the Sunrays Project in order to help the air cargo industry understand and prepare for the transportation of COVID-19 vaccines. TIACA facilitated discussions across the entire supply chain, and produced webinars, white papers and recommended practices and insights for safe and effective vaccine transportation. The support continues today with a regular newsletter, VacScene,” she added.

As the world grapples with the pandemic, TIACA showed the world that the air cargo industry its indispensable partner in sustaining economies, businesses, communities, and more importantly, people.

“I think this is a striking achievement: TIACA took note of an issue of importance to the industry – and the world – and worked at every level to increase understanding and efficiency, and to provide practical and timely advice. It also fits with TIACA’s mission statement to make the industry safe, profitable and united, and one which embraces modern technologies and practices to sustainably and fairly serve trade and social development worldwide. On a personal level, I hope to support TIACA’s efforts to provide meaningful support to members on issues that affect them as individuals, companies and us all as an industry,” said Coyne.

Overcoming challenges

Known for its forward-thinking approach, Coyne Airways carefully maneuvered its way to survive the new normal with prospects for growth in the future.

Coyne said the company saw a decline on its throughput, particularly in the heavy oil and gas sector, but the losses were offset by additional charter flights work they

“In terms of business, we did see a decline in our regular per kilo business to certain destinations, particularly those with a heavy oil and gas focus. We were forced to suspend service to some places, but we have been continuing to monitor demand and will resume service when possible. For example, we restarted direct flights between Cologne, Germany and Tbilisi, Georgia last month,” she shared.

 “We have also faced issues getting capacity into our hubs with the reduction in passenger flights affecting interline capacity. Thankfully, we still get some good support from our airline partners, for both per kilo and charter capacity. We are grateful for that as we have increased our charter work, and this has helped offset the decline in per kilo and project work,” she added.

When the pandemic struck in March 2020, Coyne said their staff began working at home, except those who are needed on the frontline.

“It is safe to say that the year 2020 was challenging for everyone. I remember taking the decision early in March to send everyone to work from home. At the time, I wasn’t sure if that was an overreaction but I wanted to do what I could to keep my team safe and healthy. The official restriction on office work came through shortly later,” she recalled.

“I have been really impressed by how well the team has been able to work remotely to keep the business running. Now that lockdown has lifted, we have kept some of the flexibility,” she added.

Interconnected future

Like others in air cargo, Coyne is extremely proud of the way the industry stepped up to the plate to deliver vital medical and other essential supplies across the world during this crisis.

“I have been very proud of the way that air cargo has stepped in to distribute not only vaccines, but life-saving medical equipment, personal protective equipment and food. I am sure that there is a greater appreciation of the value of the industry and also how interconnected we are as nations,” she said.

But she cautioned, this is not the only crisis we will face, saying, “My concern is that we should not forget that coronavirus is not the only crisis, and it does not affect only rich countries. It is encouraging to see the COVAX scheme in place to try to ensure fair and equitable access to vaccines in 190 countries, but less so to see many countries cut budgets for international aid. The pandemic has exacerbated poverty in many places and, unfortunately, more humanitarian assistance may be needed in the near future.”

Given its greater role in facilitating global trade and sustaining lives and economies in the new normal, Coyne said air cargo needs to prepare for unforeseen events and crises as well as invest more on people and technology.

“I think that generally the air cargo industry copes well with unforeseen events and crises but this pandemic has been unprecedented and global. That said, I was impressed by how quickly we saw passenger planes repurposed for cargo, and how quickly a number of inventions aimed at maximizing passenger cabin capacity and reducing loading time came on the market.

“So I think the answer to your question points to the importance of sustainability in one of its many guises: we need an efficient, profitable industry that can withstand unforeseen events, and invest in people and technology appropriately,” she shared.

 Within the industry, Coyne Airways is highly regarded for its drive and passion in delivering humanitarian cargo in conflict zones like Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa.

With the US positioned to pull out all its troops in Afghanistan by September after nearly 20 years since its invasion, Coyne expressed hope for the country to have peace and stability despite the odds.

“My enduring hope for Afghanistan is for a lasting peace and stability so that the country can flourish and prosper. Speaking frankly, I am not sure whether that will be possible in the wake of the withdrawal. From our side, we will do what we can to support the civilian economy,” she said.


With uncertainties looming everywhere and experts saying the global economy will remain difficult for many years due to the pandemic, the ever flexible Coyne Airways is ready to take on the challenges, focusing on its niche markets and their needs.

“Coyne Airways is a pioneering non-asset-based cargo airline, specializing in scheduled and chartered lift to niche destinations including Armenia, Georgia, Iraq, Afghanistan and around the Caucasus, Central Asia and Africa,” Coyne explained.

“We aim to give small company personal service with big company perks. That means getting to know and responding to our customers’ requirements so that we can, for example, blend interline lift and a

dedicated charter to get the right combination of price and transit time, and enabling them to check the status of shipments by phone, on the web, by automated email or on our app,” she added.

The airline has also upgraded its technology and IT solutions to speed up the process and give customers more advantages.

 “We have a bespoke in-house system. We did look at replacing this with an off-the-shelf system, but we couldn’t find one that could be as flexible to our and our clients’ needs as quickly, or provide the data and reporting as we would like. We have, however, been working on integrating our system with others as part of a digitalization push,” said Coyne.

Asked about lessons we could all learn from this pandemic, Coyne said: “Life is precious. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. We owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to stay healthy and stick around as much as possible.

“Human connection is important; there’s a reason why solitary confinement is punishment. But there are probably still meetings that could have been emails. We are all interconnected and we are only as strong as our weakest link: no one should be left behind. Science is amazing.”

Indeed, tomorrow is not guaranteed and our survival depends on how well connected we are, and that includes enjoining air cargo.

Larry Coyne: Aviation entrepreneur and 2020 TIACA Hall of Fame Recipient

Larry Coyne, CEO of Coyne Airways and Coyne Aviation, has been selected by TIACA’s Chairman’s Council as the association’s 2020 Hall of Fame Recipient. The annual TIACA Hall of Fame Award honors professionals with outstanding achievements in the development of the air cargo industry, exquisite leadership record and an innovative spirit.

Coyne established Coyne Aviation in 1994, providing cargo charter flights to the fast-developing CIS countries, in particular to Transcaucasia and Central Asia. Coyne Aviation quickly became the number one cargo carrier to the whole of the CIS from Europe with a strong reputation for providing reliable and secure scheduled cargo services to some of the world’s hardest to reach destinations.

Not one to sit on the sidelines, throughout his career Coyne was a passionate advocate of security, liberalization of cargo traffic rights and the removal of obstacles to the growth of the industry. He saw that TIACA could be useful in pushing this call for reform and joined TIACA’s Industry Affairs Committee in 1998.

After serving on TIACA’s Industry Affairs Committee, Coyne was then elected to serve as Vice Chairman and eventually Chairman of the association where he championed security, liberalization and the growth of air cargo industry.

“Larry always has been passionate about our industry and a true believer in the value of TIACA. He has contributed a lot to our organization and to our industry. I am thankful for the advice he has given me during my time as Chairman. It is an honor to see that Larry will now be part of the famous Hall of Fame,” stated Sebastian Scholte, Chair of TIACA’s Chairman’s Council.

Coyne joins a star-studded group of 54 air cargo leaders who have received the prestigious Hall of Fame Award since its launch in 1997.

“I am very happy to receive this award and would like to thank TIACA’s Chairman’s Council for picking me as a member of such a distinguished group of individuals. I feel honored to be in the same group as the 50 or so existing members of the Hall of Fame. They have all done exceptional things, perhaps somewhat against the odds which has impacted the way we go about our business today. I didn’t think many people had taken note of a non-asset-based cargo airline that started from scratch 26 years ago with zero investment and no defined routes,” said Coyne.

“But thanks to a lot of hard work by our dedicated staff, we managed to move around 250,000 tons of cargo generating $1 billion in sales while remaining profitable every year. This is something I am especially proud of, all achieved with no aircraft of our own, no debt and with a reputation of flying to far flung and unpronounceable places,” he added.