AviancaTaca has a lofty goal: By 2015, air cargo will account for 25 percent of the group’s revenue, Victor Mejia Rivas, Avianca’s vice president of cargo, recently estimated. Freight traffic will initially be boosted by the free-trade agreements recently signed between the U.S. and Latin American countries; the carrier will also achieve its target by adding new services in its core markets of Colombia and Miami, but by also expanding into Brazil, Peru and Mexico, he told Air Cargo World.
“A strong cargo network, comprised of both freighters and passengers bellies, is a strong revenue and profits generator,” Mejia Rivas said. “Additionally, we need the cargo business to successfully compete in our region.”
Last month, Avianca’s cargo subsidiary, Tampa, ordered four A330-200 freighters, which are slated for delivery starting in December 2012. Officials at Tampa will phase out their current freighters, replacing them with the new Airbus craft. Mejia Rivas said the carrier chose A330-200s because the planes offer the right amount of cargo space and a greater fuel efficiency than the older planes.
The carrier’s cargo growth has happened rather quickly. Five years ago, Avianca and Taca were two different companies with limited reach, Mejia Rivas said. The two firms achieved a true regional footprint by combining forces, and integrating the belly operations of both carriers helped establish the freight side of the business. Investments in the web-based cargo monitoring service Skychain and new facilities have also boosted cargo revenue.
This fast-paced growth is a speed Mejia Rivas said won’t let up. “Going forward, we see more of the same — regional expansion and the consolidation of the group as one of the main Latin American players,” he said. “We are positioning AviancaTaca to provide the best cargo service in Latin America.”