Logistics provider, GEODIS, has decided to outsource its ULD business. From now on, Zurich-based Unilode will be responsible for supplying, repairing, and coordinating the French agent’s entire unit load device activities. The contract runs over 5 years.
This long-term, binding agreement indicates that GEODIS plans to operate freighters for a longer period. Currently, the logistics provider has only leased a single A330-300 passenger-to-freighter
converted aircraft. It operates regularly between AMS, ORD, STN, and HKG to increase supply chain velocity and air freight capacity for its customers. Whether synergy effects with Unilode’s other
ULD partners can be achieved remains to be seen.
After all, it is just one freighter, but it receives the same service that Unilode offers to its other customers operating larger fleets such as LATAM Cargo, Air Canada, Qantas, or Air France-KLM, to name but a few.
Are more GEODIS freighters on the horizon?
When asked by CargoForwarder Global, Eric Martin-Neuville, Executive VP Freight Forwarding at GEODIS did not exclude additional freighters being leased: “We need a little more experience in operating our own airframe prior to deciding to further extend our fleet and thus our capabilities to operate charters. However, at this stage, all indicators are encouraging.”
Following thorough market research and weighing up whether outsourcing ULDs is the better solution than managing the business inhouse, GEODIS chose the outsourcing option, selecting Unilode as service provider. In a statement, GEODIS emphasized that Unilode’s ULD management services proved to be the most convenient and appropriate solution for their start-up airline as, in addition to supplying the necessary stock of ULDs at all destinations serviced by the A330-300P2F, Unilode also takes care of all ULD-related operational tasks. “We are pleased with our newly formed partnership and are confident that our cooperation will be further developed in terms of volume and services,” said Stanislas Brun, Senior Vice President, Global Air Freight.
Words that were warmly welcome at the headquarters of the Swiss company. “From Unilode’s pooled ULD fleet, we are able to quickly supply containers and pallets needed for GEODIS’ freighter aircraft operations. Additionally, we also reduce costs and carbon emission associated with the repositioning of damaged equipment, as Unilode has its own ULD repair centers covering GEODIS’ destinations in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the USA, and Hong Kong. We look forward to partnering with GEODIS and contributing to the success and growth of its own air cargo operations,” emphasized Marc Groenewegen, Chief Commercial Officer at Unilode.
New pattern: forwarders are increasingly taking to the air
He also praised GEODIS’ courage to invest into its own dedicated freighter aircraft. “This is a great example of freight forwarders taking ownership to overcome air cargo capacity shortages,” Mr. Groenewegen said.
The French logistics company is following examples set by the former Panalpina, which operated its own intercontinental fleet of wide-body freighters. Lately, DB Schenker chartered two freighters, operating a charter chain between Germany and the U.S. on behalf of agent Senator International, and logistics company Sovereign Speed meanwhile possesses its own freighter fleet consisting of 2 small Cessna Caravans and 2 Dornier 228s deployed on pan European routes. Especially since the outbreak of the pandemic, when demand for air capacity exceeded supply, the number of forwarding agents taking to the sky with chartered freighters has rapidly increased.
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