With seven Asian airlines currently running 39 flights a week to and fromDallas/Fort Worth International Airport, plus increased interest fromcarriers in using DFW as a transfer hub for cargo between Latin Americaand Asia, DFW has become a major US hub. Karen E. Thuermer reports.
Asia is an important market to DFWand represents half of the airport’sairfreight volumes. According to airportstatistics, January – October 2006volumes were up over 22 percent overthe same period last year. This translatesto 177,400 tonnes YTD 2006 versus144,900 tonnes YTD 2005.
While cargo managers at Houston’sBush Intercontinental Airport (IAH),located approximately 250 miles southof DFW, are also aggressively courtingAsian carriers, Bill Frainey, assistant vicepresident of Air Service Developmentat DFW stresses DFW’s advantages inaccess to US markets and connectivityto Latin America.
‘Every time I speak with an Asianairline we talk about Latin America,’says Frainey. ‘There is an increasing need for the service. It is a matter of time before we pull this together.’
American Airlines, which uses DFWas one of its major hubs, already offersdaily wide-body service to LatinAmerica. While AA operates only passengerflights, belly freight arrives atDFW on AA flights early each morningfrom Latin America that can be connectedonto AA’s twice-daily 777 flightsto Tokyo.
‘We cannot underestimate the importancethat American Airlines playsin air cargo at DFW,’ Frainey states.
Since April 2, AA has been providingnon-stop service between Chicago andShanghai operating 777 aircraft. Accessto US markets is also a major sellingpoint at DFW. The airport is locatedin the middle of the US. It offers fourmajor interstate networks to the East,West, North and South. Some airlinestruck their cargo to and from cities likeLos Angeles and Atlanta from DFW.
‘The road network is a big incentivefor carriers to service DFW,’ says Frainey. ‘Our geography cannot be duplicated by anyone else. From Houston, you have to cut north to do that. This adds to fuel and labour costs.’
DFW’s immediate catchmentarea is home toa population of nearlysix million. More than50 million consumerscan be reached within24 hours; 98 percentof the US populationwithin 48 hours. Add tothis, Dallas Fort Worth isgrowing market strong intechnology products andconsumer goods. Morethan 20 Fortune 500 companies have their headquarters there.Houston is dominated by the oil andenergy industries. ‘Theirs is a differentmix,’ he says.
And unlike IAH and many otherairports, DFW is not landlocked. With18,000 acres, it has room to grow. ‘Thisgives us the opportunity to considernewer and bigger types of development,’Frainey comments. In 2005,DFW was ranked as having the fifthlargest market to Asia; Houston was14th. DFW has a strong history withthe Asian market and a deep link withAsian carriers in general.
For starters, Asia represents halfof DFW’s airfreight. Breaking thatdown, imports represent 70 percentof the trade and exports 30 percent.While freight volumes are imbalanced,Frainey maintains that the yields andrates carriers are able to maintain arestrong enough coming in from Asiathat it supports the roundtrip of theaircraft.
‘What is more important is some ofthe innovative steps airlines are takingto develop outbound payloads,’ hepoints out.
For example, Air China and ChinaCargo Airlines (the China Southernsubsidiary) serve DFW in tandem withChicago O’Hare. Via Anchorage, theycome into DFW, then fly up to Chicagoand back to Anchorage. Cathay Pacificdoes the same by sharing its four flightsinto DFW with Atlanta.
‘That is a great way to balance theimport and the export,’ he says. ‘They get a balance because the markets are slightly different whether its Chicago or Atlanta versus DFW. They balance each other.’
Today, Cathay Pacific, SingaporeAirlines, EVA Air, China Cargo Airlines,China Airlines and Korean Air serviceDFW. The latest newcomer is Air China,which began offering three times aweek service in late June. It complimentsChina Cargo’s six times a weekservice from Mainland China.
‘This means we now have nineflights a week from China,’ Frainey comments. ‘Last year we had none.’
Singapore Airlines Cargo offersround-the-world services from DFW.The service commenced in 2001 withtwo round-the-world services. EffectiveOctober 2006, it now operates five. Theflights come out of Singapore to Macauand on to DFW, then to Singapore’smini hub in Brussels, onto the MiddleEast and back into Singapore.
‘They are following the direction oftrade,’ Frainey says. ‘This gives us moreopportunity to develop links in the MiddleEast and Europe.’ DFW is actingaggressively to attract more flights. Onescheme it implemented in 2005 is anair service incentive programme, whichprovides landing fee rebates for cargoairlines during their first three monthsof service to DFW. Carriers can savesignificantly, depending on the type ofaircraft and the maximum gross landingweight. The incentive has helpedseal some deals in attracting carriersto DFW. In addition, DFW offers marketingsupport to expose newcustomers to the airline. ‘Wehave been very creative in howwe can work with airlines,’Frainey says. ‘There is a lot ofrisk in starting a new station.This also gives us somethingto offer on the table.’ In addition,DFW recently unveiledits new international air cargocomplex, designed to accommodateaircraft up to thegiant A380. The 14.2- hectarecomplex, comprises the AirCargoCenter II and AirFreight& LogisticsCenter.