Growing to meet demand
As airfreight volumes between Saudi Arabia, Asia and other parts of the world remain in positive mode, Saudi Airlines Cargo Company (SACC) is expanding the size of its fleet and increasing the frequency of its services to meet client demand.
Adding to the growth, SACC announced in June the opening of its new Far East regional office in Hong Kong. The newly established regional office manages the business of eight online Far East stations, including Hong Kong, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Bangkok. The Shanghai and Guangzhou freighter services stop in Bangkok to pick up cargo before heading to Europe through Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) hubs.
SACC has grown its freighter fleet by adding three additional B747s to increase the frequency on scheduled services and create more capacity for the charter market. The carrier has increased weekly freighter flights to 14 to Brussels, five to Amsterdam, six to Hong Kong, five to Johannesburg, three to Sharjah, four to Khartoum and four to Addis Ababa.
The airline operates 28 passenger and freighter flights, with a weekly capacity of 1,340 tonnes to main hubs in the kingdom from where flights connect to a global network covering 225 destinations in Africa, the Middle East, the subcontinent, Europe and the United States. SACC says state-of-the-art facilities located in Jeddah, Riyadh, Dammam and Brussels, utilising the latest operational systems, and equipment enable the airline to handle and store cargo in accordance with the highest international standards.
'The increase in the number of flights to Asia, Africa and Europe will strengthen SACC's position in the air cargo market,' says Shihab Al Amoudi, head of global communications and advertising, and media spokesman at SACC.
Vikram Vohra, SACC Far East regional director, says the new Hong Kong office provides sales, customer service and operational support to the Hong Kong market where the carrier operates six weekly B747 freighter flights. 'Our fleet can accommodate all types and sizes of cargo,' says Vohra, who has worked in the airfreight industry for more than 25 years. Offline stations in Seoul, Osaka, Hanoi, Saigon and Taipei are also supported and managed from Hong Kong.
'South China [Guangzhou and Hong Kong], in particular, has large demand for airfreight to the KSA and Africa and we are a carrier of choice in this market,' Vohra says.
He says major cargo items of airfreight include telecommunications and industrial equipment.
Vohra says due to the slowing of various economies, China's manufacturing and exports have seen a drop in demand. At the same time, volumes from Hong Kong are down by 12 to 15 per cent to Europe and the US.
'Despite this, SACC sees stable loads on our freighters because we are not restricted to only Europe and the US, which are in decline. Africa and the Middle East are strong sectors for us and our customers support us on these lanes. Apart from this, we offer a high frequency of flights per week and provide a long-term solution to our freight customers,' Vohra says.
From the Far East, SACC operates six Boeing 747 freighters per week from Hong Kong, five MD-11 freighters per week from Shanghai and four flights a week from Guangzhou in a combination of MD-11 freighter and passenger aircraft. He says SACC freighter operations are expected to see further expansion in the Far East.
In addition to increasing its number of flights from Hong Kong and Shanghai, new freighter routes are being planned from Seoul, Beijing and Vietnam to begin operating next year.
Additionally, in response to increasing demand to Latin America, SACC is considering services to Brazil.
'The Far East freighters will connect to these flights and this offering is seen as providing much needed solutions to the region's export companies,' Vohra says. SACC is rapidly expanding its presence in Europe by opening its own offices in Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Scandinavia.