The Qatari cargo carrier and the Chinese logistics company, Cainiao, belonging to e-tailer Alibaba, have announced their cooperation. While Cainiao charters the freighter and provides the
shipments, Qatar Airways Cargo flies the goods. The collaboration will be kicked off on Saturday (05MAR22), with the flight taking off from Hong Kong (HKG), via Doha (DOH) to Sao Paulo (GRU) in
Brazil, operated weekly by a Qatar Airways Cargo B777F.
On the occasion, CFG spoke with Guillaume Halleux (GH), Chief Officer Cargo at Qatar Airways, and Dandy Zhang (DZ), Commercial Director of Global Line Haul, Cainiao’s Cross-border business.
CFG: Guillaume and Dandy, is this the first charter agreement between Cainiao and QR?
GH: We have operated ad-hoc charters for Cainiao in the past, however, this is the first long-term charter partnership with them.
CFG: How long does the project run and is there an end date?
GH: Cainiao and Qatar Airways Cargo have entered into a 2-year strategic scheduled charter agreement to support e-commerce growth in South America.
DZ: However, we also hope to expand our partnership in future as e-commerce between China and Latin America is growing rapidly.
CFG: As to operations: Why not take the somewhat shorter route HKG – LAX – GRU (no operational rights?)
GH: Correct. This is mainly due to traffic rights. However, the route we fly is marginally shorter as we would need two technical stops flying your proposed route to ensure we don’t have a payload penalty.
CFG: Is the stopover in Doha a pure fuel stop or will some shipments be unloaded there and distributed to their final destinations within Qatar Airways Cargo’s own network?
GH: The stop in Doha is only a technical stop, with no unloading taking place.
CFG: Speaking of products: Is it pure e-commerce freight or a mix of products traveling from HKG to Brazil?
DZ: The majority of cargo being transported on the charter freighter is Cainiao’s e-commerce products.
CFG. Who takes care of the onward transportation in Brazil, say to Manaus, Porto Alegre, or Recife?
DZ: Cainiao takes care of the customs clearance, and last-mile delivery is carried out through a partnership with Correios in Brazil.
CFG: Hence, the Brazilian postal service. From GRU, the freighter returns to Doha (not to HKG), correct? Or has Cainiao chartered the entire trip?
GH: In this case, it is a one-way charter agreement from Hong Kong to São Paulo.
On the return, we fill the flights with cargo destined from South America to our network, ensuring optimum use of space and capacity.
CFG: Why is the Brazilian market obviously very intriguing for setting up such a charter operation?
GH: E-commerce has been growing rapidly in Brazil since the pandemic. São Paulo is definitely the biggest Latin American market where there is a high demand for e-commerce shipments. Hence, given the projected demand, we partnered with Cainiao to offer dedicated capacity of 100 tons each week from Hong Kong to São Paulo.
CFG: Is this charter agreement a door opener for similar accords between Qatar Airways Cargo and Cainiao? If so, which markets / routes would it make sense to serve?
GH: Yes, we look forward to more global cooperation in the future. With our extensive network and fleet as well as a strong charter product, we are able to serve booming markets globally and offer dedicated capacity to e-commerce players.
DZ: From Cainiao’s perspective, the potential markets would be Europe and the Middle East.
CFG: Does LATAM Cargo play any role in this deal? After all, Qatar Airways holds 10% in LATAM, and the airline operates many Latin American routes to/from GRU
GH: There is no involvement of LATAM in this partnership.
CFG: Thank you both for the insights. And good luck with your flights.
Interview: Heiner Siegmund
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