Saudi Arabian Airlines Cargo ishoping to start freighter services toGuangzhou if it can secure a secondleased B747 freighter.
The carrier leased a B747-200F fromAir Atlanta last June, which joined thefour MD-11Fs and one B747-200F inSaudia’s own fleet. Fahad Hammad,vice president cargo sales and servicessays he is hoping to finalise negotiationsfor a second leased B747F in April,along with an A300 freighter for regionalroutes.
The Guangzhou route would betwice a week, rising to three times aweek in due course. Traffic rights havenot yet been finalised, but Hammadsays good progress has been made. Thecarrier already has had a thrice-weeklyfreighter service to Shanghai since May2005, and plans to increase that to fivetimes a week to be more in line withother offerings in the market.
The A300 freighter would be usedto fly to Gulf and African destinations,including Khartoum, Ndjamena, AddisAbaba, Nairobi and Johannesburg, withAfrica-Asia traffic a particular focus.
The first three destinations on thelist are already served by Saudia’sMD-11Fs, and the aircraft releasedby deploying an A300 instead wouldbe used to boost frequencies on thecarrier’s trunk route to Brussels. Inaddition, the Dhaka service could beboosted from twice a week to three orfour times a week.
Brussels is currently served 12 timesa week by Saudi Arabian freighters,with three flights a week going on toNew York and two of those going onto Houston.
The plans to lease further freightersis a response to growing demand, butalso growing competition, with Hammadsaying that Saudia "has to meetits customer expectations or someoneelse will fill the gap".
The carrier is also starting truckingservices to Doha and Dubai andincreasing road feeders to other destinations,though Hammad says Customsissues still restrict the scope of theseservices.
Saudia has signed a contract tojoin online booking platform GF-Xbut it is not yet clear when it will golive on the system. Hammad says oneoutstanding issue is whether spacecontrol for the freighters will be donein Brussels, as at present, or in Jeddah."We are finalising this with the financedepartment, and as soon as we finishthat, which should be in two or threemonths, we will be able to go live,"he says.
– Peter Conway