DALLAS – Year after year, Qatar Airways Cargo (QR) has risen through the ranks as a major cargo airline. A perfect duo with its passenger counterpart, Qatar Airways, it serves a global network of more than 60 cargo destinations and 150 passenger destinations, using a mix of cargo, cargo hold and passenger cargo. What more to come?
Qatar Airways Cargo is stepping up its game, a new ‘next generation’ initiative is in the works, aimed at making the entire air cargo process digital sustainable and future-ready.
Airlines companies‘ Siddharth Ganesh led a brief discussion with Mr. Guillaume Halleux, Chief Officer Cargo of Qatar Airways Cargo on the markets in which the carrier thrives and what is next for the fleet – we are talking about a cargo airline whose l he average fleet age is younger than most passenger airlines, a rare trend for air cargo.
Here’s what William has to say.
SG: Qatar Airways Cargo, with Qatar Airways, has never stopped flying over the pandemic. What were the Freight Load Factors (CLFs) like during that time compared to now?
GH: The pandemic has disrupted global trade, and we have met our first challenges. However, we continued to fly freighters and passenger freighters and even converted some of our passenger aircraft to mini freighters. We operated most of the flights and are proud to have been able to support global trade, charities and governments around the world during this time.
The load factor was 7% higher during the pandemic period of 2020-2021 compared to 2019, which can be attributed to the shortage of capacity due to the decrease in the number of passenger aircraft in service at that time. The remaining capacity has become valuable, and any pockets of available capacity have become valuable to us.
The FIFA World Cup is fast approaching and Qatar Airways is ready to bring the fans. What are some of the special things QR cargo will be doing this season?
This is an exciting time not only for us but also for the entire State of Qatar. Indeed, it is a proud moment to host the games. Considering the enormity and popularity of the World Cup, we will welcome around 1.2 million visitors, which requires a huge import of food.
Therefore, a number of local farmers are stepping up their efforts to increase the production of various vegetables in view of the higher demand expected during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. Apart from food, we transport equipment from stadium, broadcast material, promotional items and fireworks.
As one of the fastest growing cargo fleets with a lower average age than most passenger airlines, how are your flight cycles and would you be flying the jumbo jets for this whole decade?
With our youthful, fuel and carbon efficient fleet, we benefit from the ability to significantly increase utilization compared to most passenger fleets. Fleet and widebody decisions are part of an ongoing process of reviewing our fleet needs based on sustainability, efficiency and market dynamics.
As a launch customer of 34 all-new 777-8Fs, would they replace the Jumbo jets and part of the 777F or complement it since the current ones aren’t as old?
The Boeing 777-8F gives us 18% more payload and the operating cost is significantly lower, around 20% per ton. Having the right number of freighters at our disposal is of strategic importance. Consequently, the order for the B777-8Fs will arrive gradually from 2027.
We are looking at a gradual transition from the current fleet to the 777-8F, the 777F fleet is very young and we still have deliveries planned. Initially, we will be piloting a hybrid fleet, and depending on market conditions, we may see a gradual transition to a more common platform in the long term.
In general, how are loads balanced between outgoing traffic and incoming traffic, particularly in countries where the export/import ratio remains highly variable?
In general, exports and imports of Qatar Airways Cargo’s top 20 relevant markets are balanced. However, it varies greatly from market to market: markets, where exports outweigh imports, include markets focused on perishable goods such as Oslo and Nairobi, as well as manufacturing hubs such as Hong Kong and Guangzhou.
What are some of your crucial markets now and in the future?
Crucial markets for Qatar Airways Cargo are North East Asian export markets – such as Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Seoul and Hanoi; as well as the import markets of Europe – Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Paris.
Going forward, from an export perspective, we expect emerging markets in Southeast Asia, such as Vietnam and Indonesia, to be crucial markets as they increase their manufacturing capabilities. As purchasing power increases in Central and West Africa, these import markets will also be crucial in the years to come.
Perhaps an introduction to Qatar Airways Cargo’s “The Next Generation” program?
With the launch of “The Next Generation”, Qatar Airways Cargo defines its role in the air cargo industry. It’s not about the younger generation, but about bringing a fresh perspective to everyone involved in the air cargo value chain.
The vision is to take an innovative new approach to the air cargo industry, develop existing talent, attract new ones and harness digital potential to solve everyday problems. It is above all a complete change of corporate mentality. Digital enhancements, new products, a new website and many other initiatives will be rolled out as part of The Next Generation.
The Next Generation approach will be reflected in our network and operations, whether in technology, sustainability, diversity, the next generation of employees joining our business, our products and services, and how we approach our business. in general.
Featured image: Mr. Guillaume Halleux. Photo: Qatar Airways Cargo