British Airways (BA) started five weekly passenger flights in March linking London Heathrow with Austin in Texas. In the meantime the service has been extended to daily flights operating
with BA’s new flagship, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
This is BA’s third daily Texan destination after Dallas and Houston.
What’s in it on the cargo side then?
CargoForwarder Global joined IAG Cargo on a visit to the Texan capital city to see what makes this new destination so important for the IAG Cargo product.
The daily service offers an average of 12-15 tons of westbound capacity into Austin (AUS) and with up to 20 tons of uplift on the outbound legs.
Payloads can be subject to passenger loads which are also good seeing as Austin is a popular destination for country music lovers as well as being a good source of revenue for BA on the business travel sector.
It seems however that Austin offers IAG Cargo better direct uplift of cargo produced in the area as well as being able to give total coverage of the Texan Triangle production landscape surrounding Dallas (DFW), Houston (IAH) and Austin (AUS).
David Shepherd, IAG Cargo’s Head of Commercial, stated in his presentation to the press at the Austin Chamber of Commerce, that “already after three weeks of service load factors have reached 88%
out of AUS.”
This figure was confirmed by Joseph LeBeau, V.P. Commercial, IAG Cargo USA. “Joe” pointed out that the above figure also shows that 18% of this uplift is made up of local Austin products. This figure will increase greatly within the coming months, he adds.
It is interesting to note that around 70% of Austin’s exports are bound for European destinations with the UK taking 30%, followed by Amsterdam and Brussels with around 20% each.
Exports to the Middle East, mainly related to the oil and gas industry, account for a further 20%, whereas the rest is mainly destined for Africa and India.
The key cargo flows out of Austin are Oil & Gas Equipment (33%), Computer Parts (10%) and Pharmaceuticals (5%).
Inbound commodities are made up mostly of automotive parts, fresh fish (salmon) and computer wiring etc.
Promoting the “Silicon Hills”
IAG’s main aim however, seems to be directed towards helping to support the technology and pharmaceutical industries which are growing fast in the Austin “Silicon Hills“ area and connecting these businesses to IAG’s 350 global destinations.
This argument is supported by the Austin Chamber of Commerce management who are doing a lot to promote the Silicon Hills growth.
IAG Cargo has moved into a fully functional warehouse in AUS and will receive its Constant Climate accreditation there within the coming days. This will add Austin to their other 93 climate accredited stations worldwide.
This is important, say the IAG Cargo managers, in order to cater for the proper handling of pharmaceuticals outbound and the increasing demand for fresh fish on the inbound sectors.
But can the area deliver what it claims?
It seems so!
Texas claims to have already surpassed California as the main production area for technical products and further claims that the central Texas is one of Americas most vibrant economies and that Austin is the fastest growing city in the United States.
Figures delivered by the Chamber of Commerce show that the population of 1.9 million is joined every day by an average of 125 new immigrants to the city. Many of those have jobs within or related to the “hi-tech” sector. These people are highly educated and more than 40% of the “under 25‘s” living in the area hold bachelor degrees.
The high- tech economy is supported by companies such as Dell, IBM, Freescale, Samsung and many more.
This is termed as the “Technical Cluster Development Area” by the city fathers.
The airport of Austin, which was formerly a U.S. Air Base and was converted to passenger operation over a decade ago, boasts an 11,000 foot runway which can accommodate any type of aircraft, as
well as ample cargo handling facilities with enough space for future expansion.
BA’s flight is the first international service in and out of Austin, but the airport is served regularly by integrators such as FedEx, UPS and DHL.
Furthermore, there are 3 to 4 ground handlers on site.
Ray Brimble, CEO of Lynxs Holdings who specialize in the construction of airport cargo facilities states that “the airport has ample room for expansion and that the city of Austin can offer future cargo operators attractive conditions for settling there.”
“BA has made a smart move”
This is what the Austin Chamber of commerce noted.
And, it seems that this completion of the “Texas Triangle” by IAG Cargo has given them a firmer foothold in this ever increasing market.
With the addition of AUS, IAG Cargo now offers almost 450 tons of weekly capacity through its three Texan gateways.
When one considers that load factors out of the DFW and IAH gateways are already touching the 95% mark and that exports are expected to grow even faster, then maybe IAG Cargo may should considering teaming up with a freighter operator to keep its hold on this vibrant market.
David Shepherd assures us that for the time being there are no firm plans in that direction, “but you never know how things may develop,” he added.
Seventy percent of the Texan GDP originates out of the Dallas, Houston and Austin areas.
So by serving all three airports as well as having a regular truck feed service between all three cities, IAG Cargo is offering the market a full coverage.
Indeed, a smart move!
By the way! - Boeing has created a real „Dreamliner“ with the 787.
Very large windows, no shades. Instead a clever button under each window whereby one can filter out the daylight from light to dark blue. A soothing way to fly.
Oh! - and those sexy new swept wings.
John Mc Donagh