Cargo airlines are under pressure due to the economic downturn which has been intensified by the corona virus. Meanwhile, they are tending to pass on the strain to their GSAs, as seen by the many changes announced lately. “The number of tenders that have been launched by cargo airlines in recent weeks is really amazing,” states Ingo Zimmer, CEO of the ATC Group of cargo sales agents. Hence, the current situation resembles a fast turning merry-go-round with changing actors and cast.
Mr. Zimmer knows what he is talking about. In January, ATC lost Colombian carrier Avianca Cargo’s European business following a tender. Next to exit the GSA will be its long-term partner, Etihad
Cargo, on March 31. Thus, ATC has lost two heavyweights within just a couple of weeks.
Decisions by their managements that Herr Zimmer describes as “unpleasant” for him and his company. At the same time, he points out that ATC goes on selling key customers such as Turkish Cargo, Saudia Cargo, Qatar Airways Cargo, and the main deck capacity of Sichuan Airlines’ A330Fs that serve Brussels four times a week. In addition, ATC gained Alitalia and Air Astana as new mandate airlines. So, if one door closes, two new ones swing open, he knows from experience and is therefore quite relaxed despite the Etihad and Avianca losses.
ECS might become Etihad’s new darling
As things stand, Paris-based ECS, ATC’s fiercest global competitor, is benefitting from Etihad’s decision to change their sales reps on a global level, given the many tenders they Arabian airline has launched worldwide. “I can confirm that we are in negotiations with the carrier’s cargo management, but nothing has been concluded yet,” an ECS executive declared, when asked by CargoForwarder Global about the impending pact.
Market observers suspect that in the case of Etihad, this could lead to a division of responsibilities. Tendency: The airline's cargo unit will carry out its sales activities itself, while regional GSAs could perform the associated service functions. A conceivable split made possible by the easy online booking of airline transport capacities enabled by digitalization along with smart booking portals such as cargo.one or Fleet Logistics. Smart tools that combine spot rates and transport capacity. Whether this will be the case with Etihad, who already cooperates closely with provider cargo.one, and whether the approach will work in practice remains to be seen.
Mondial markets Avianca Cargo…
As for Avianca Cargo, GSA Mondial Airline Service has been marketing the Colombian airline's capacities in Central Europe since the beginning of the year. This is confirmed by Mondial's German head, Aytekin Saray. He points out that the company operates an A330 freighter twice a week on the route from Bogota to Brussels. In addition, it offers between five and six daily passenger flights from Barcelona and Madrid to Bogota (3 x), Medellin and Cali, operating a Boeing 787 "Dreamliner". There are also five passenger flights a week between Munich and Bogota, also by B787. On the Iberian Peninsula, a local sales agent manages Avianca's cargo business. "But in the event of an overflow of shipments for the Brussels freighters, we truck the shipments to Spain, where they are then flown off to Colombia in the cargo holds of Avianca's passenger fleet."
… and Azul, too
Mondial did not have to set up the road feeder network. Since the GSA also manages the freight business for the Brazilian airline Azul, trucks travel between Frankfurt and Lisbon on a scheduled service anyway. While Azul is a low-cost airline, where air freight plays only a minor role, with its 12 weekly A330 flights between Lisbon and Viracopos near Sao Paulo, it still has enough belly capacity to carry cargo, manager Aytekin points out, which secures Mondial’s business.
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