Driven by the necessities involved in supporting the fight against the coronavirus, the essential role and value of air cargo is now better understood beyond the industry, believes John Cheetham, chief commercial officer for IAG Cargo
What have been the biggest challenges to your air cargo business and cargo handling operations from the coronavirus and the measures being taken to reduce its spread?
COVID-19 has posed an unprecedented challenge to the global airline industry.
We have adapted quickly, creating solutions to put freight capacity where it is needed. We were one of the first airline groups to provide scheduled cargo-only flights on our passenger aircraft. We have also been offering our customers the option to charter our aircraft.
Throughout, we have worked closely with our partner airlines and together we have transported thousands of tonnes of essential medical supplies across the world, including on new routes that have been added to our network.
How have you responded to these challenges?
We are incredibly proud of the way IAG Cargo has adapted to this unprecedented period of change for the industry.
Our response focussed on providing those new services for customers – charters, cargo-only flights and the use of the passenger cabins for cargo. We have one of the most comprehensive networks of cargo-only flights available and are focused on growing it.
The main need that we have responded to is the surge in demand for medical equipment and supplies across the world. Here, the availability of cabin space has proved immensely valuable as we seek to maximise aircraft capacity, and during May we will work with British Airways to facilitate 21 flights from China to London every week.
Our focus will be to continue to keep vital supplies moving to support global trade and we will continue to work with our airline and aviation partners to make this happen.
What new opportunities have arisen, if any, amid the undoubted challenges of the last few weeks?
The events of recent weeks have put our adaptiveness and agility as a business to the test. We have been driven by the necessities involved in supporting the fight against coronavirus.
The essential role and value of the air-cargo industry is now better understood beyond the industry. I think we’ve all become aware of the truly globalised and interconnected nature of the world economy.