Qatar Airways has set its sights on becoming a top-five global cargo carrier in the next five years. CEO Akbar Al Baker told the World Cargo Symposium that QR could even reach second or third place in the global rankings for general cargo (excluding the integrators) within this time frame.
The airline will be operating 11 freighters by the end of this year. Al Baker announced that three more A330s freighters will be delivered by the end of this year, taking the total up to six. The first joined the fleet a few days ago, the second is imminent and a third will arrive this spring.
He said the new metal offered 40 percent more capacity than the A300s, which had been “a core part of our cargo fleet” but would now be phased out. The Airbus capacity will be in addition to QR’s Boeing 777 freighters, which will increase to five this year.
Cargo accounts for 28 percent of Qatar Airways’ revenue, compared with an industry average of 12 percent for. In terms of its bellyhold capacity alone, given its large wide-bodied passenger fleet, Al Baker said the carrier could out-perform many combination operators.
Chief cargo officer Ulrich Ogiermann said QR’s current complement was 121 aircraft, serving 125 destinations. By 2015, the carrier is set to have 170 aircraft. It has 250 aircraft on order in all.
The strongest freight lane currently is Hong Kong-Doha, served with six freighters per week. Ogiermann would not reveal which new routes the carrier was targeting as its main-deck fleet expanded, saying only that the market remained volatile and the landscape was “always changing.”
Al Baker told the conference that Qatar Airways has applied for an AOC to operate an airline in Saudi Arabia, initially for domestic services only but with later plans to operate internationally.