Saudi Cargo has launched another frequency to Johannesburg, pushing its existing thrice-weekly services up to daily offerings.
This is the latest move in the carrier’s continued interest in Africa. Saudi either has or is planning services into Johannesburg, Lagos, Chad, Sudan and Bole, Ethiopia.
“Africa — that’s what’s really driving a lot of our growth right now. The demand is matching the supply nicely. It’s growing at a nice pace as well,” Michael Basoco, Saudi
Cargo’s regional sales director, Americas, told Air Cargo World. “The scary part is when everybody starts flying in there, it throws off the equilibrium.”
According to Basoco, Saudi freighters returning from Africa are loaded down with everything from perishables to machine parts. Lagos is a big destination for oil and gas supplies, while imports to the rest of the country run the gamut.
“All these locations, as developing countries with a growing middle class, they’re wanting everything,” he said. “It’s the next big frontier.”
But Africa isn’t the only place Saudi is expanding. The carrier added a third frequency out of Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport on July 15. Saudi is also planning to expand further into the Americas next year, Basoco said, adding that new services to South America and Latin America are in the carrier’s “mid- and longer-term plans.”
The expansion moves – plus a recent addition of B747 freighters — reflects Saudi’s current economic outlook. To illustrate how well the carrier has been faring in what is still an uncertain market, Basoco points to June’s revenue totals. Saudi ended the month with the best monthly revenue since it started tracking such data. He added that revenues, tonnage and yields are all trending up.
While the outlook is sunny for many of its trade lanes, Saudi still feels the crunch in a few regions.
“We’re feeling the pain in certain lanes,” he said. “There’s definitely softness in parts of the world, but in aggregate, we’re very strong.”