Thursday, August 27, 2020

Cargo Division Starts New Air Freight Services and Upgrades Others

Post Covid Boost in Trade Foretold
Shipping News Feature

UK – PAKISTAN – ITALY – It seems for air freight at least there is some good news as fears over the pandemic subside somewhat. This week Virgin Atlantic Cargo has announced both new, and additional services.

From December 2020 the company will be launching flights between the UK and Pakistan supporting growing trade volumes between exporters and importers in both countries which currently equate to some £3.3 billion a year in goods and services. This trade rose 4.7% year-on-year in 2019, with high volumes of goods such as textiles, apparel and machinery leading the increase.

With the colonial connections between the two it is little surprise that the UK is the third biggest global market for Pakistani exporters after the US and China and their main trade lane in Europe, and Virgin services will operate on three new routes; London Heathrow to Lahore; London Heathrow to Islamabad as well as Manchester to Islamabad.

This situation mean air freight clients in Pakistan will also benefit from fast connections to prime markets in the US as well as in Europe and Africa via London Heathrow. Virgin Atlantic Cargo says it also expects healthy demand for capacity into Pakistan from customers across its international network.

The boost in services presumes that the services will benefit from increased demand from passenger traffic, Pakistan has the seventh largest diaspora in the world and the new services aim to respond to the large, fast-growing demand to visit friends and relatives (VFR) from customers in the UK and the US, as well as capturing demand for business travel and trade to the region as global economies gradually recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Dominic Kennedy, Managing Director of Virgin Atlantic Cargo, said:

“The import and export market for goods between the UK and Pakistan is extremely healthy, so we’re delighted to be offering our cargo customers another prime route with such positive growth opportunities. This is supported by our fast connections over London to Europe, the US and Africa, and this potential will become even greater as Virgin Atlantic continues to reintroduce more routes and frequencies as part of our Covid recovery plan.”

In another move, from Saturday 12th September, the airline will subsequently commence Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 flights from London every Thursday and Sunday offering up to 50 tonnes of cargo capacity per flight to and from Milan’s Malpensa Airport. Cargo capacity on the new Virgin Atlantic service will be marketed by ADP, part of the ECS group and the airline’s general sales agency in Italy, while Bcube Air Cargo has been awarded the cargo handling contract for export and import shipments.

Milan is home to a diverse business community and is also respected as one of the fashion capitals of the world. In 2019, prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, Malpensa handled over 545,000 tonnes of freight traffic. Virgin Atlantic Cargo expects to carry a wide variety of cargoes ranging from apparel and footwear, food and wine and luxury car parts, to pharmaceuticals, electronics products and textiles. Dominic Kennedy continued:

“Since our first cargo-only flight on 22nd March, we’ve operated over 1,800 of these services, helping our customers deliver nearly 50 million kilos of cargo and, in the process, provided a valuable source of revenue for Virgin Atlantic as we continue our recovery programme. We have chosen Milan as our latest cargo-only route because the profile of business fits so well with our UK and US network, and we’re very much looking forward to being able to grow our working relationships with customers in Italy.”

For customers in the US, Virgin also promises quick and easy connections over London to do business with companies located in Italy’s largest industrial region. This will include next day deliveries for products from New York to Milan. Carlo Gonzata, Managing Director of ADP in Italy, said:

“Starting twice-weekly frequencies to Malpensa shows Virgin Atlantic Cargo’s support of the Italian market. Malpensa Airport is a prime hub for export and import trade and as Italy continues to rise from the pandemic, it is especially welcome news for customers that they can now access direct capacity to and from the UK with Virgin Atlantic as well as fast connections to major US cities. Both markets provide Italy’s business community with very important trade opportunities.”