Air France-KLM Cargo and Martinair Cargo have launched services to new destinations and are increasing the frequency of previously served routes. Harm Winkeler, deputy vice president of the Americas for Air France-KLM Cargo and Martinair Cargo, told Air Cargo World that the carriers have especially high hopes for their routes to the Atlanta and JFK airports.
Since March 25, Air France Cargo has operated twice-weekly service to Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport from Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, a freight route the carrier abandoned in 2009. Air France-KLM Cargo and Martinair Cargo are providing sales and customer service for the route, which is estimated to impact metro Atlanta and the Southeast’s economy by $8 million to $12 million, annually.
March 25 also saw the introduction of twice-weekly cargo service to JFK airport from Paris. Winkeler said customer demand drove Air France-KLM Cargo and Martinair Cargo’s decision to launch both routes.
“We decided to start freight routes to Atlanta and JFK due to the commercial pressure for main-deck cargo capacity and also requests for new [trade] origins from JFK and Atlanta,” he told Air Cargo World.
“If you look at Atlanta and JFK airports, [the demand for main-deck cargo services] was not only driven out of Americas, but also strongly driven out of Europe as well,” Winkeler said. Mexico City, which also became the recipient of two additional weekly Air France-KLM Cargo routes on March 25, also fits into this category, he said.
Air France-KLM Cargo’s Paul Welch concurred. But Atlanta, he said, presented an even more pressing need. “Of all of our major [passenger] gateways — JFK, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and Miami — Atlanta was the really only one — up until now, anyway — where we didn’t have a main-deck presence,” Welch said.
Welch expects the Boeing 747s deployed on Air France Cargo’s route to Atlanta to be inundated with medical equipment, aerospace materials and automotive products. The carrier has also fielded requests about moving horses to Europe. “And of course, there are dangerous goods and unknown-shipper-type stuff that we see quite a bit of in this market that gets shipped to other gateways that can stay here and move on Air France in the future,” Welch told Air Cargo World.
Air France Cargo’s service to JFK airport, on the other hand, will serve a different niche, he said. “JFK is a different market in that they already have main-deck [capacity] available, but a freighter will give them new opportunities, especially in the shipper-based business in the Northeast region,” Welch said.
Atlanta, New York and Mexico City aren’t the only North American cities of interest for Air France-KLM Cargo and Martinair Cargo, however. Since March 25, the carriers have started flying 14 times per week to San Francisco International Airport — up from 10 — and six times a week to Chicago O’Hare International Airport.