Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Air Freight Joint Venture Moves Cargo Handling Under One Roof

Virgin and Delta Co-Locate UK Operations
Shipping News Feature
UK – US – We are used to the various alliances made between the ocean container freight carriers but this week saw two of the world’s leading airlines, Virgin Atlantic Cargo and Delta Cargo, sign long-term contracts with dnata to co-locate their cargo handling at London Heathrow, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London Gatwick where both carriers operate. The new ‘one roof’ handling strategy being rolled out across the UK will also include six other UK regional airports, Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, East Midlands, Leeds/Bradford and Newcastle to further enhances the airlines’ joint venture partnership.

The move is designed to provide easier single drop-off and collection points for customers of both airlines and is intended to deliver longer-term benefits such as faster truck turnaround times at London Heathrow and enhanced services for premium products. Since the start of their joint venture in 2014, Virgin Atlantic Cargo and Delta Cargo have also co-located cargo handling at eight gateways in North America: Atlanta, Boston, Las Vegas, Miami, New York (JFK and EWR), Orlando and Washington Dulles.

For Virgin Atlantic, the new contract with dnata is a further extension of one of the longest-running cargo handling agreements in the UK, which first began in the late 1980s. The airline is dnata’s largest cargo customer in the UK, moving more than 200,000 tonnes of cargo per annum, and it has handling contracts with dnata in Dubai and Australia. In 2015, Virgin also awarded the majority of its UK domestic UK trucking business to dnata. John Lloyd, Senior Vice President, Cargo at Virgin Atlantic, said:

“Our working relationship with dnata in London has such longevity because they not only consistently meet our stringent service level agreement but they also work with us to find other ways to deliver service improvements and efficiencies to our customers. Our ‘door waiting’ times at Heathrow, for example, are already among the best at the airport but with the new technology being developed, dnata is confident they can be reduced even further. That’s the attitude we want our partners to take to share our passion for customer service.”

Delta Cargo will join Virgin Atlantic in their dedicated 200,000 square foot Cargo Point facility, adjacent to London Heathrow’s World Cargocentre. In support of the new contracts, dnata is making a multi-million pound phased investment which will include advanced control point technologies to further improve handling times for customers’ trucks when delivering and collecting cargo. The new system, which uses geo-fencing and advance information on drivers and their vehicles, will make customer interaction with Virgin and Delta’s Heathrow cargo operations faster and more seamless. Commenting on the new agreement, Gareth Joyce, President, Delta Cargo, remarked:

“Co-locating our cargo operations at Heathrow and across the UK under ‘one roof’ in partnership with dnata will help realise greater synergies, while delivering a more seamless and efficient service to our customers. With an extensive network between the UK and North America, plus hundreds of same-day, wide-body connections via Delta’s hubs, we offer a competitive and comprehensive range of cargo services that will continue to evolve thanks to our partnership with dnata.”

The new technology is currently being trialled by dnata ahead of its planned roll-out in Q1 2017. dnata will also work proactively with both airlines to support the continued growth of their existing products for perishable, temperature-controlled, pharmaceutical and high value cargoes. Gary Morgan, Chief Executive Officer of dnata observed:

“We are thrilled to have renewed our contract with Virgin Atlantic Cargo and we appreciate being recognised for the high quality of service we have provided to Virgin Atlantic Cargo and their customers. It is especially gratifying to extend the partnership to Delta Air Lines and to welcome them into the dnata family. Our commitment and investment into the UK market has been unprecedented, and the benefit of working alongside like-minded carriers brings an opportunity to further invest in people, the latest equipment, high specification facilities and cutting edge technologies.”