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New cool-chain offering exceeds forecast, AA Cargo says

By Hpanchal on September 13, 2011

On September 1, American Airlines Cargo rolled out a new ambient temperature controlled cold-chain service targeted at pharmaceutical companies. This extension of AA Cargo’s temperature-controlled service, dubbed ExpediteTC Passive, will be used in conjunction with the firm’s ExpediteTC Active program. The new offering allows companies to package goods in their own material instead of using the ULD-based Active service.

According to Joe Reedy, vice president of sales and marketing for AA Cargo, the reaction from customers has surpassed his wildest expectations. The carrier rolled out the service across its entire network at the beginning of the month, and Reedy said he’s seen positive results from Latin America, Asia, Europe and the U.S.

“We’re one week in, and we have substantially exceeded what we thought was a rosy forecast,” Reedy said in an interview with Air Cargo World on Friday. “It is a much bigger market than the active market. It’s been fantastic.”

Benefits of the new program include a high-visibility supply chain, storage in new, temperature-controlled rooms at AA’s facilities and new training for employees. According to a company press release, the Passive offering “augments American’s current service, ExpediteTC Active, which utilizes dry ice and battery-powered containers to actively regulate temperature levels, regardless of ambient conditions.”

To bring Passive capabilities to the AA network, facilities have been expanded or renovated in Dallas, Chicago, Miami and JFK in New York, Reedy said. “It’s a pretty big investment, but my next expectation is that we roll out even more of these rooms,” he said. “We started with our largest hubs and the places we expected some of the greatest demand.”

Tom Grubb, who spent the previous three years helping develop these temperature-controlled (TC) solutions, has been promoted to the new position of manager, cool chain strategy, in order to oversee AA’s further cold-chain expansion.

“I have a very integral knowledge of how [the Passive program] is going to go, and it will allow me to evaluate what we offer and enhance what we offer to give our customers exactly what they need,” Grubb told Air Cargo World. “The growth of this segment is tremendous in the last several years. It’s going to be very interesting to see how shippers and forwarders decide they want to use this type of service.”

One expansion that’s already planned is an evolution of the Active, ULD-based service. The carrier currently limits its offerings to Envirotainer, but is now testing and certifying other packaging options.

“We will continue to expand our TC offering,” Reedy said. “It’s very much of a growing industry and one we plan to be part of from here going forward.”

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