Australia Restart: How’s It Going for IAG Cargo?

After a two-year pause, we’re excited Australia is back on our network. To find out how the restart is going, why our London-Sydney route is so important, what products are flown in and out, and more, we spoke with Deval Joshi, the Area Commercial Manager for Southeast Asia, and Australasia. 

Australia resumed flights the last week of March. How has the restart been going?

Our customer’s response has been very encouraging and extremely positive. We’ve shared a great rapport with the key customers and they started working with us as soon as the operations began. We’re experiencing strong load factors and the Australian team is doing a great job.

What is the significance of the London-Sydney route?

Sydney is IAG Cargo’s gateway into Australia and along with trucking connections into Melbourne, Brisbane, and Canberra, we can help our customers from Europe and North America access the Australian markets. It’s a route that keeps the economy moving.

What products do you fly out of Sydney?

Our key exports are perishables and foodstuffs such as avocados, watermelons, rockmelons (cantaloupes), and frozen meat products. 

There are opportunities to move lots of pets, as people have started travelling again.

In addition, we do export aircraft equipment and parts, since Australia has a thriving domestic aviation industry. The parts that need servicing come into Singapore, London, and other destinations where aircraft manufacturers have their own servicing and maintenance agreements.

We have been transporting eCommerce products, such as fashion and footwear as well.

What is one of the main products that come into Sydney?

We move a lot of fashion, especially high-end fashion originating from Europe. It is only through air freight that fashion shipments can get from manufacturing centres to stores and boutiques in time to meet consumer demand for the latest trends. Our customers tell us that the fulfilment cycle can be very tight with the need to ship to boutiques around the world in a matter of days and weeks. The speed of air cargo makes it the perfect option for high-end fashion houses and high street retailers alike. 

In addition, we have been receiving Pharmaceuticals and key amongst them are Pet Vaccines. 

Do you have a trucking network? 

We have a separate trucking partner that has a large network and reaches all the key airports in Australia. It’s a very smooth process. We don’t require a full truckload, either. 

How did the air cargo industry in Australia adjust to the pandemic?

Due to geographical distance, Australia has been isolated and there are limited manufacturing opportunities, the country is extremely dependent on trade to keep the economy running. During the pandemic, schedules into Australia reduced significantly & passengers weren’t allowed to travel, so the government activated a programme called IFAM, which served the interests of freight forwarders and the Australian market. 

Only IFAM-approved airlines could fly in. Customers using these flights received rebates from the government, so they could import and export products accordingly. These airlines were mostly bringing in pharmaceuticals, personal protective equipment, and hand sanitisers, and exporting fruits and vegetables along with meat products which kept the Australian economy moving.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced?

Getting the team up to speed and customers set up after not flying for two years. Obviously, they were looking forward to joining us and working with us, but, as with all restarts, you need to ensure that the checkboxes are ticked and everyone is aware of operational requirements. We also trained many new people, so they could deliver from day one.

How does it feel to get things going again?

Excellent! Throughout the pandemic, our customers were in touch with us, looking forward to this time. Getting Australia back on our network is one of our crowning moments. 

We have such a wonderful history with Australia. While it was very heartbreaking to stop those rotations, everyone was elated the moment we announced the restart. Even not long before we announced it, our customers and partners started reaching out, asking, is it happening?! It’s a very happy moment to have Australia back on board.

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