Taiwan’s China Airlines has launched a scheduled charter freighter service consisting of three B747-400 freighter flights a week to Rickenbacker Airport (LCK) at the US city of Columbus, Ohio.
Columbus is China Airlines’ 11th freighter destination in the US and its addition will expand the freight network and offer greater flexibility through connecting flights to other cities such as Chicago, Seattle and Anchorage, China Airlines said.
The carrier notes that Rickenbacker is a popular transit hub with strong potential in the eastern US that is beginning to achieve economies of scale. The airport attracts a number of major cargo players including AirBridgeCargo, Cargolux, Cathay Pacific Cargo, Emirates SkyCargo, Etihad Cargo and integrators such as FedEx and UPS.
Statistics for Rickenbacker Airport show that freight volumes jumped by 70 per cent in 2017 compared to 2016 and the total number of freighter flights also grew by around 20 per cent for the year. “Further growth is anticipated,” China Airlines says.
Citing International Air Transport Association (IATA) statistics, China Airlines says it is “one of the leaders in international air cargo,” ranked in the top 10 for global cargo volumes at 5.74 billion tonne-kilometres, an increase of 8.9 per cent over the previous year. In 2017 China Airlines uplifted 1.46 million tonnes of international air freight, registering a 10.3 per cent growth over the previous year which ranks the carrier as the seventh fastest growth rate for 2017.
The carrier is also continuing to develop potential markets in Southeast Asia with the flight frequency of its Taipei-Hanoi route increased in May while the capacity of the Ho Chi Minh City route was also expanded. When combined with charter revenues from Asia and the Americas, total cargo revenues in the first seven months of 2018 amounted to TWD 26.18 trillion (USD 858.8 billion), an increase of 16 per cent over the same period 2017 and accounting for 27 per cent of total group revenues.
The Taoyuan International Airport (TPE)-based carrier is upbeat on the market this year, pointing to IATAs forecast of 4.5 per cent growth in air cargo, along with International Monetary Fund (IMF) predictions that the global economy will grow by 3.9 per cent this year. China Airlines said this growth was being driven by, “anticipated growth from innovation-driven upgrades in mobile electronic devices, mechanical and semiconductor capital equipment and e-commerce postage freight.”
“China Airlines is working actively to take advantage of developments in freight and cargo sources. The belly cargo on B777 and A350 passenger aircraft together with the freighter fleet are being harnessed to further develop regional markets and optimise transportation services between Europe, Americas and Asia. Closer cooperation with partner airlines and major international cargo agents is also being pursued to provide a better-quality air cargo services,” the carrier said.
The China Airlines fleet currently consists of 88 passenger and cargo aircraft including 18 B747-400F freighters. There are 93 freight destinations of which 11 are freight-only, including Luxembourg, Belgrade, Anchorage, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Seattle, Houston, Atlanta and Houston. Up to 93 freighter services are flown each week on an extensive world-wide network.
China Airlines is also a SkyTeam Cargo member, having joined in 2012, making it the only airline from Taiwan to join an international air cargo alliance. A joint air cargo platform is being developed for express shipments in line with the development strategy of the cargo alliance for greater transhipping efficiency and to expand sources for express shipments.