Wednesday, May 22, 2024
Evolving to meet global demand

Evolving to meet global demand

As the national carrier of the UAE, Etihad Cargo has played a pivotal role in helping the emirate of Abu Dhabi cement its position as a global air cargo hub in a relatively short period of time. Since the carrier’s establishment, Etihad Cargo has set its sights on global growth and has added depth to its network with the addition of new destinations and increased frequencies to support increased demand for its premium products for key sectors. Leonard Rodrigues, Head of Revenue Management & Network Planning, shares insights into Etihad Cargo’s evolution and how the carrier has expanded into key markets and sectors in recent months to achieve its vision of being the air cargo partner of choice. 

As the cargo and logistics arm of Etihad Airways and the national carrier of the UAE, Etihad Cargo has demonstrated an appetite for growth, expanding its global network to serve 70 destinations since its establishment nearly 20 years ago. While the carrier’s fleet has expanded and its network has grown, a core principle has remained — taking a customer-centric and collaborative approach to provide world-class air cargo solutions to Etihad Cargo’s partners and customers. Over the past few years, this commitment has seen the carrier respond to challenges with agility. Now, with the hurdles of the pandemic in the past, Etihad Cargo has set its sights on enhancing its offering and adding depth to its network to not only cement its position as the air cargo partner of choice but also maximise its strategic location to help Abu Dhabi become a global pharmaceutical and express logistics hub. 

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Rodrigues said, “Abu Dhabi’s location makes it a natural gateway between Europe, Asia, Africa and the US. Our hub at Abu Dhabi International Airport is within a four-hour flight radius of approximately one-third of the world’s population, allowing for quick and efficient access to these key markets. Supported by a strong economy and trade, the modern infrastructure at Abu Dhabi’s multimodal airport, including a dedicated cargo terminal, has been pivotal in enhancing connectivity between the Middle East and the rest of the world. This has given Etihad Cargo a strong foundation to build on, and we are committed to going even further.” 

Going further and expanding the carrier’s reach has been a driving force in Etihad Cargo seeking out partners with the vision of delivering mutual growth. Earlier this year, the Middle Eastern carrier announced it had entered into a mutual blockspace agreement with China’s SF Airlines. This partnership saw both airlines operate freighter flights between Abu Dhabi and the Hubei province. Building on the successful collaboration between the two carriers, Etihad Cargo’s inaugural flight to Ezhou Huahu Airport touched down in August, making the UAE carrier the first international airline to operate flights to Asia’s first professional cargo airport. The introduction of Ezhou to Etihad Cargo’s Chinese network has enabled the carrier to offer greater connectivity to China’s five national-level city clusters via the airport’s transportation infrastructure, including railway, waterway, expressway and air links. 

Rodrigues said, “As a multimodal air cargo hub, Ezhou Huahu Airport serves as a gateway for air trade between China, the UAE and the rest of the world. The addition of our new Abu Dhabi-Ezhou route enables Etihad Cargo to provide customers and partners with seamless connectivity across the Chinese market and will help both airlines transform Abu Dhabi and the Hubei Province into major logistics and express hubs. Etihad Cargo’s partnership with SF Airlines has enabled us to add depth to our Chinese network, and we are exploring how to further expand our international network out of Ezhou to offer greater connectivity to our customers.” 

Ezhou is the latest addition to Etihad Cargo’s growing freighter network, which saw the introduction of Guangzhou in recent months. Now serving Ezhou, Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai, Etihad Cargo’s Chinese freighter network offers ten weekly scheduled freighter flights. The carrier also offers additional belly capacity via ten weekly passenger services to Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai. New destinations and increased frequencies have been added to support growing capacity demand for Etihad Cargo’s premium products, which include a specialised product dedicated to e-commerce and the carrier’s IATA CEIV Pharma-certified PharmaLife, which accounts for 20 per cent of Etihad Cargo’s total volumes for China. 

Product development and the enhancement of its eight-strong premium product range have also enabled Etihad Cargo to better meet the needs of its global customers and partners. In addition to bolstering the carrier’s PharmaLife product with the launch of a state-of-the-art cool chain facility in Abu Dhabi and the introduction of new features, including thermal covers, Etihad Cargo has also invested heavily in its product dedicated to express logistics and e-commerce. 

READ: Etihad Cargo launches innovative pricing solution

Rodrigues explained, “There has been a phenomenal global increase in online shopping and cross-border trade between e-commerce businesses. Cross-border e-commerce has always been a key component of Chinese exports and e-commerce represents a large proportion of freighter demand through dedicated charter programmes. We have enhanced our product offering to offer the speed consumers and businesses need and expect to answer the growing demand for reliable express logistics solutions.” 

Rodrigues concluded, “Pharmaceuticals, express cargo, and express options for other types of cargo, will continue to be a focus for Etihad Cargo in the next decade and logistics across these critical sectors will further evolve. Etihad Cargo will invest in our product offering so we can offer quick, reliable and efficient transportation solutions across our global network, supported by our extensive road feeder service network to connect with offline stations.” 

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


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