Saudi Airlines Cargo has grown belly cargo by almost one-third during the first half of the year.
In the period from January to June 2013, Saudia Cargo moved 270,000 tonnes of cargo, breaking last year’s record of 250,000 and achieving a 6 percent revenue increase and 4 percent tonnage increase. Belly cargo grew by 29 percent, with the main contributors being the U.S. (+50 percent) and the UK (+40 percent), while cargo in the freighter network grew by 3 percent.
The airline’s growth is the result of a number of factors. During the first half of the year, the carrier increased its freighter capacity from Dhaka, Bangladesh and commenced B747 freighter flights in Mumbai and Kano, Nigeria. It also started operations with its first B747-8F in June, which is scheduled on Riyadh, Saudi Arabia-Hong Kong-Riyadh-Frankfurt-Saudi Arabia flight rotations.
In terms of charter activity, revenues were lower than anticipated in the first six months due to a shortage of aircraft availability. But as of July, the airline increased its fleet to 15 aircraft (4 MD11s and 11 747s), three of which are dedicated to the growing ad hoc charter market.
“Although the current market is a bit soft, we still expect to achieve a 10 percent growth during the second half of the year,” Nabil Khojah, CEO of Saudia Cargo, said. “This is principally due to the boost in our charter activity, optimization of our freighter network, adjustments to freighter schedules and increases in the number of freighters to some of our key destinations.”