5 carrier partnerships to watch in 2018

Although carrier-to-carrier cooperation is as fresh a concept as electronic waybills, 2017 has been a year during which carriers further aligned themselves into increasingly cooperative alliances. For their potential impact on the global freighter fleet, here are 5 alliances to watch in 2018.

An Emirates SkyCargo 777F parked next to a Cargolux 747-8F at Luxembourg’s Findel Airport.

1) Emirates SkyCargo and Cargolux Airlines

At the Air Cargo Europe event in Munich in May of this year, Europe’s largest all-cargo carrier, Cargolux, and Dubai-based Emirates SkyCargo announced a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for an expansive “strategic operational partnership”. The deal between the all-cargo and combination carriers includes reciprocal block space and interline agreements, joint handling at each other’s major hubs (Dubai and Luxembourg), and, for Emirates, access to Cargolux 747Fs for heavy/outsized cargo requiring nose loading or cargo otherwise unsuitable for Emirates’ own 777F fleet. Since announcing the deal, the carriers have begun codesharing on both maindeck and belly space. Sales and marketing functions continue to remain separate as both carriers market and sell space under their own flight numbers and air waybills, even when the other carrier is transporting the cargo. For more on the partnership, see Emirates, Cargolux to codeshare for cargo.

Lufthansa Cargo and Cathay Pacific Cargo have already merged their cargo handling operations at Frankfurt and Hong Kong airports.

2) Cathay Pacific and Lufthansa

In May 2016, two of the world’s top three international cargo carriers − Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific and Frankfurt-headquartered Lufthansa Cargo − joined forces in a “highly integrated” bilateral cooperation agreement. The agreement encompasses different functions of the business, including network planning, sales, IT, and ground handling. A few major milestones of the partnership so far:

  • October 2016: Lufthansa Cargo moved its Hong Kong handling operations into the Cathay Pacific Cargo Terminal.
  • January 2017: Cathay Pacific Cargo relocated its Frankfurt handling operations to Lufthansa Cargo’s handling facility.
  • February 2017: First joint shipment on Hong Kong to Frankfurt flight, and the beginning of cross-bookings.

Next year, Cathay Pacific and Lufthansa will commence jointly operated flights on eastbound shipments from Europe to Hong Kong.

Lufthansa Cargo and United Airlines will soon offer customers metal-neutral access to each-other’s cargo capacity between Europe and the US.

3) United and Lufthansa

In April 2017, United Airlines and Lufthansa Cargo signed a joint venture agreement that paved the way for extensive trans-Atlantic cooperation. Both airlines began the process of aligning their cargo IT systems to enable metal-neutral access to each other’s cargo capacity between Europe and the US. Further integration and expanded operations are expected to commence next year. The JV with United is the third such cargo JV for Lufthansa, after similar arrangements with Japan-based ANA and Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific.

Air France-KLM and China Southern Airlines first signed an MoU to cooperate on cargo in 2015.

4) China Southern Airlines Cargo and Air France-KLM-Martinair Cargo

In October 2017, China Southern Airlines and Air France-KLM-Martinair Cargo expanded the scope of their longstanding cooperative agreement. Both carrier groups have been cooperating as SkyTeam alliance partners for years, and signed their first MoU covering cargo in 2015. Moving into 2018, China Southern’s alliance with KLM is seen as particularly helpful in retaining its maindeck slots at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, which is being forced to limit the number of aircraft movements in 2018 because of government-imposed limits.
For more on the partnership, see China Southern, Air France-KLM posed to enact sweeping cargo cooperation.

5) Jet Airways Cargo and Air France-KLM

India-based Jet Airways, and Air France-KLM have had a code-sharing agreement in place since 2014, but last week signed a more comprehensive MoU to cooperate on cargo moving between Europe and India.

As part of the agreement, the two carriers will further align their respective cargo networks, increase warehousing efficiency, and enter into block-space agreements on each other’s flights. The airlines also intend to develop new products and services, including offerings tailored toward specialty cargo – such as pharmaceuticals, express, and e-commerce.

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