We hear from Area Commercial Manager, Hong Kong, Philippines and Taiwan for IAG Cargo – Jayram Nair on how IAG Cargo’s Hong Kong hub pulled ahead during the first global lockdown, charter challenges, plus how one Forward.Rewards member leapt to Forward.Platinum status
HKG has performed incredibly well throughout the pandemic, what has this success been down to?
At HKG, we have a strong customer base managed by an extremely committed and efficient Sales and Customer Service team, that can promptly identify opportunities and gauge market outlook. In the Head office, we have cohesive Network, Operations and Revenue Management teams working closely with us on any such opportunities from aircraft availability to operational capabilities. As we’re able to promote synergies between our teams, whenever we have increased demand out of Hong Kong, we have been able to offer additional frequencies at very short notice for our valuable customers. It’s this agility that has been one of the biggest successes for IAG Cargo in Hong Kong throughout the pandemic.
You operated more than 250 cargo-only flights since the start of the pandemic, what have been some of the commodities on these flights?
The cargo-only flights that we operated started with PPE in early April 2020, with hand sanitiser, gloves, masks etc. After the initial three months we then saw major uplift of e-commerce, and that’s when the entire work-from-home started to kick in and people started to upgrade their home tech set-ups, so we saw this reflected in the consignments we were shipping. This has continued throughout the last 18 months, with hi-tech and e-commerce deliveries taking a substantial slice of our capacity. We were also one of the few carriers that continued to carry live animals. Since May 2020, we have flown more than 1,000 consignments of Live Animals, including domestic dogs and cats, as well as turtles, chinchillas, rabbits, parrots, reptiles and hedgehogs.
Could you talk about some of the destinations that you’ve chartered aircraft to and what they carried? Were there any challenges in setting these up and how were they overcome?
Antigua was a unique charter destination for us, and a more challenging service to set up at that time because we weren’t operating those flights. We had to get special approval to get the green light for the service, which flew PPE from Hong Kong to London, and then onward to Antigua. Besides London, we’ve also chartered aircraft to the US and Latin America, operating weekly charters through end of Q3 and Q4 that carried multiple commodities such as hi-tech goods, watches, mobile phones, accessories.
How did customers respond to the launch of cargo-only and charter flights?
The launch was received well by all customers, in fact Hong Kong freight forwarder and e-commerce specialist Bollyman grew exponentially thanks to its use of IAG Cargo’s cargo-only services and Prioritise product for urgent shipments for e-commerce to Chile. Bollyman said: “IAG Cargo really supported our business at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic with scheduled cargo-only flights which we could rely on for vital capacity. With IAG Cargo’s help, we were able to support our customers, maintaining our important trade route into Chile and we continued to grow to the extent that we joined IAG Cargo’s FORWARD.PLATINUM loyalty scheme.”