Wednesday, May 22, 2024
Serving New England’s airfreight market

Serving New England’s airfreight market

Formed in 1996, SeaCoast Aviation has been based at Pease International Airport (PSM), initially delivering operations and handling cargo for Emery Air Freight.

“This relationship enabled both companies to flourish here, with our ability to meet the demands of Emery allowing us to become the only “on-demand“ cargo handler in New England,” Don DeLande, General Manager of SeaCoast Aviation, stated. 

“Our partnership encompassed on-demand auto parts, mail runs, and various charter flights set up by Emery. This enabled us to gain experience.”

Changing scene

When Emery sold to UPS, SeaCoast Aviation turned to Port City Air as a new partner. Port City Air is one of the preeminent fixed base operators (FBO) in the country when it comes to military traffic. Through this relationship, SeaCoast Aviation was able to gain a foothold in the Department of Defence (DoD) market. 

“This introduced us to all types of military aircraft from various militaries around the world, as well as the Antonov 124,” DeLande explained.

“The Antonov Design Bureau stated publicly that Portsmouth is the preferred airport of the Antonov in the United States. It is not unusual to see more than one of these behemoths parked on our ramp at any given time.”

Port City Air also handles Allegiant Air and private passenger charters. This enabled us to become proficient in handling belly freight on passenger airlines.

Continued expansion

Pease International, as it increased operations, added on-site Customs and changed its moniker to Portsmouth International Airport at Pease. 

“As it grew, we grew right along with it. Adding the equipment, people and experience, along with a Foreign Trade Zone, we are able to compete with the major hubs in the northeast USA for both cargo and international tech stops,” DeLande outlined.  

“We now handle more international cargo flights than domestic.

“Our relationship with forwarders handling DoD contracts has increased over the past few years. Unfortunately, more than a few of the auto industry parts manufacturers have moved their factories out of the country. This has adversely affected that aspect of our business.”

Global picture

A return to normalcy in passenger travel has certainly put more emphasis on belly freight and consolidation. SeaCoast Aviation are more involved in oversized cargo and breakbulk, so it really has not affected them.

“With the “normalisation” has come more of an emphasis on ocean freight. The balance between cost and time is leaning more to shipping by sea rather than air,” DeLande mused.

“The current geopolitical state, especially in the mid-east and eastern Europe, has had a calamitous effect on freight moving through that part of the world. Ships getting attacked in and around the Red Sea have caused a lot of damage, fear and a need for quick, viable alternatives. 

“This has led to an uptick in business for us. I am not sure that that is a good thing, but it is a fact.

“Interruptions to supply lines will continue to affect shipping decisions for quite some time. This will cause fluctuating spikes in air cargo demand.”

Digitalisation trickles down

Digitalisation will undoubtedly transform the airfreight industry, but it has not affected SeaCoast Aviation yet. 

“We are the grunts, the ground handlers. We are the last line of cargo before it is loaded or unloaded. All of the digital magic is occurring on the preceding levels: the brokers, forwarders, customs, etc,” DeLande said.

“I see an increase in air cargo in the future. With the demand for quicker deliveries, companies will accept the increased cost of getting cargo to its destination in a timely manner. 

“I also see a move away from the larger hubs like JFK, BOS, ORD, etc. I think with more cargo comes higher costs, more congestion and longer wait times. 

“In order to combat these, customers and forwarders are going to be looking at the less crowded, more flexible, less costly regional airports. This will be an opportunity for us to grow our business and the airport. The future will certainly bring challenging times, and we look forward to the challenge.”

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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