We’ve come a long way in the 10 years since IAG Cargo was founded.
In a three-part series, we look back at the moments that have defined IAG Cargo over the last decade. In part 1 we talk mergers, acquisitions, new world-class pharmaceutical facilities and the introduction of some dazzling new aircraft.
British Airways and Iberia merge creating the International Airlines Group (IAG)
IAG Cargo was created in 2011 following the merger of British Airways World Cargo and Iberia Cargo, bringing together two distinct brands focused on providing quality services for their customers to unlock the full potential of their networks.
Since then, IAG Cargo has become one of the largest cargo operators in the world, serving key sectors of the global economy including ecommerce, tech, manufacturing, automotive, pharmaceutical and aerospace.
Aer Lingus and Vueling join IAG, LEVEL launches
The business has grown significantly in its first ten years. In 2013, IAG acquired Vueling a leading short-haul airline in Spain.
Aer Lingus joined the group two years later in 2015, growing IAG’s capacity along key transatlantic cargo routes, such as New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Boston. In that year of acquisition, Aer Lingus moved 34,000 tonnes of cargo, 80 per cent of which was pharmaceutical and medical devices from Ireland’s robust pharmaceutical export sector.
Further growth came in 2017, when IAG launched the low-cost, long-haul airline brand LEVEL.
New aircraft types enter the Group
The last ten years have seen new aircraft types added to the Group, with the introduction of the fuel-efficient A330-200 and A330-300 in 2013 and 2015 to Iberia’s metal, as well as the modern and sustainable A350-900 in 2018 to 2021.
British Airways also saw the Boeing 787 enter service, with the B787-8 in 2013 and B787-9 in 2015 offering an extra 20 feet and more capacity. In 2019, the A350-1000 was brought on board, and in 2020, the latest iteration of the Dreamliner.
Constant Climate facilities at IAG Cargo’s London and Madrid hubs
In 2013, IAG Cargo debuted its new Constant Climate centre at London Heathrow, where it handles temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals and vaccines. The facility contains two temperature-controlled zones for both passive and active shipments – the first maintained at +2 to +8 degrees Celsius (around 35 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit), and the second maintained at +15 to +25 degrees Celsius.
In 2019, IAG Cargo’s Madrid hub opened a new GDP-certified pharmaceutical centre, comprising two temperature-controlled chambers spanning 900 sqm to process the 250,000 tonnes of Constant Climate cargo that IAG Cargo handles each year in the Spanish capital. In its first two years, the Madrid centre has moved over 20,000 consignments of pharmaceutical cargo including life-saving vaccines for diseases such as polio, diphtheria, measles and more recently COVID-19.
“Our Constant Climate centres demonstrate the importance of the pharmaceutical market to IAG Cargo’s strategy. They sit in the heart of one of the largest temperature-controlled cargo networks in the world, and are a huge benefit to global pharmaceutical companies as they look for efficient routes to market,” said Naomi Robinson, Head of Business Management and Planning.
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