IAG Cargo boss Steve Gunning was recently quoted in Air Cargo News as saying the carrier’s deal with Qatar Airways for space on five weekly 777F frequencies between Hong Kong and the UK had worked out very well. So well, in fact, that “we have done some additional but much more modest capacity arrangements with Qatar Airways already, linking some India routes into the Middle East and into Madrid as well.”
He added that IAG was also exploring opportunities for partnerships with other carriers.
Regarding the decision to terminate the lease of three 747-8Fs with Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, and move instead to the single 777F agreement with Qatar, Mr. Gunning pulled no punches: “We were not generating, but destroying value by continuing to run those [747-8] freighters. What I can say in contrast, is that the program with Qatar is profitable and is contribution positive. It has made a significant difference, the contribution year-on-year for the quarter is up significantly and the change in freighter program is about a third of that improvement.”
On the subject of freighter operation in general, he said that the big influx of belly cargo capacity was “creating an excess supply and the only relief valve that the air cargo industry has is freighter capacity, because that is the only one they are fully in control of. As a result you will see the freighter [business] model coming under more and more pressure – I am not saying get rid of all the freighters because we need them in certain routings and products – but there will be a reduction in freighter capacity.”