Growing SkyTeam still "one or two steps ahead"
SkyTeam Cargo formally welcomed Aeroflot as the ninth member of the alliance at Air Cargo Europe.
The carrier, a member of SkyTeam’s passenger alliance since 2006, saw a 23 percent increase in cargo uplift last year to 163,000 tonnes. Oleg Korolev, head of Aeroflot Cargo, explained that only 60,000 tonnes of this was carried on its three MD-11 freighters, which serve Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul from Moscow and Frankfurt Hahn.
The financial crisis had led to a postponement of Aeroflot’s freighter fleet development plans, Korolev said, but the higher-yielding traffic was, in any case, suited to bellyhold. With freight-friendly passenger B777s coming back onto the carrier’s roster from 2012, he suggested the role of freighters could further diminish.
Michael Wisbrun, who leaves KLM Cargo to take up a new role as managing director of SkyTeam on June 1, said China Eastern and China Airlines would be the next two carriers to join the expanding cargo alliance. Noting that Lufthansa was “having another go” at creating a cargo alliance, Wisbrun claimed SkyTeam was “one or two steps ahead."
In light of recent and ongoing legal cases, he accepted that there were limits to airline cooperation, but said there were significant synergies from SkyTeam members’ common product portfolio. Members now shared terminals and handling arrangements at 35 airports, Wisbrun said.