Monday, May 20, 2024
Challenging year doesn’t halt charter growth

Challenging year doesn’t halt charter growth

While the airfreight industry is looking towards a more positive future, putting the pandemic behind it, the past 12 months were still undoubtedly a challenging period for everyone, as the world grappled with a series of geopolitical and economic shocks. 

Despite the global environment, Challenge Group faced this environment head-on, with Or Zak, Chief Commercial Officer, pointing to their value proposition as the backbone of their operations. 

“Our strategic focus on handling unique cargo, providing end-to-end solutions, and fostering strong customer relationships played a significant role in our performance,” Zak explained.

“Unlike some carriers that cancelled allocations and increased prices in response to the pandemic, we stood by our customers, offering support and stability. This commitment paid off as the market began to recover,” he continued. “Despite the potential allure elsewhere, our customers remained loyal, recognising the rarity of our services in the industry.” 

READ: Challenge Group launches freighter service to Mumbai

Fleet integration

While traditionally having operated 747 freighters, now managing five within its fleet, Challenge Group is constantly looking at how to evolve its services, as opportunities emerge in the market, adding new aircraft to its portfolio.

“The 747 has proven to be a valuable asset for our operations. It aligns seamlessly with our business model and the specific commodities we transport,” Zak highlighted. 

“As the market started to rebound, we were quick to seize opportunities, acquiring our fifth 747 towards the end of last year. 

“However, as demand remains for operations, we are eager to not only expand our network but also grow our fleet, capitalising on the 747 and looking at other aircraft types.”

The introduction of the 767 freighters will seek to revolutionise the way Challenge Group operates, providing greater flexibility and adaptability, tapping into short and medium-haul routes within the European Union, the Indian sub-continent and the Middle East.

While acknowledging that taking on new aircraft, particularly after operating one main type for so long requires a shift in the company’s mindset, Zak is confident it is worth the investment.

“Even before the introduction of our first 767, we noticed a shift in customer behaviour. Smaller requests started coming in and within the first week of having the 767, we successfully operated charter flights, showing the market was there for this business,” he highlighted. “It’s not merely about adapting to a new aircraft. It’s about uncovering unforeseen opportunities and enhancing our capabilities to serve our customers better.”

READ: Asia Pacific export tonnages and rates continue to rise

AOC advantage

With Challenge Airlines IL holding an Israeli air certificate (AOC), Challenge Airlines BE possessing a Belgian AOC and Challenge Airlines MT having secured a Maltese AOC, the airline is able to engage in operation with enhanced flexibility over where and how they can fly. 

Regardless of external circumstances, Challenge Group is determined to remain resilient, seeing the need to adapt to changes as just part of their approach. 

For instance, if airspace restrictions arise, they are prepared to find alternative routes swiftly. The agility of these operations allows Challenge Group to navigate any hurdles promptly, avoiding burdensome delays in a sector that requires speedy and reliable operations.

“The diverse fleet and multi-AOC operational structure allows us to extend a range of options to our customers,” Zak stated. “In the current landscape, marked by Covid and geopolitical challenges, customers want stability, and we can position ourselves as a reliable provider, ready to meet demand and deliver solutions.”

Picture of Edward Hardy

Edward Hardy

Having become a journalist after university, Edward Hardy has been a reporter and editor at some of the world's leading publications and news sites. In 2022, he became Air Cargo Week's Editor. Got news to share? Contact me on Edward.Hardy@AirCargoWeek.com

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