Saudi Airlines Cargo achieved freight volume growth of 4 percent in the first half of 2013 despite "sluggish" global air cargo markets.
From January to June, the cargo arm of Saudi Arabian Airlines carried 270,000 tons, up from last year's record volume of 250,000. Revenue in the period rose 6 percent year-over-year.
Cargo moved in the bellyholds of the carrier's 145 passenger aircraft grew 29 percent, with volumes to the U.S. and U.K. up 50 and 40 percent, respectively. By contrast, Saudia only recorded a 3 percent gain in tonnage carried by its expanded freighter fleet as overcapacity continued to stalk the cargo-only sector.
“Although the current market is a bit soft, we still expect to achieve a 10 percent growth during the second half of the year” said Nabil Khojah, CEO of Saudia Cargo. “This is principally due to the boost in our charter activity, optimization of our freighter network, adjustments to freighter schedules and increases in the number of freighters to some of our key destinations."
Apart from recently taking steps to improve procedures for shippers serving its home market, the carrier increased its freighter capacity from Dhaka and commenced B747 freighter flights from Mumbai and Kano during the first half of the year. It also started operations with its first B747-8F in June, which is currently scheduled on Riyadh-Hong Kong-Riyadh-Frankfurt-Saudi Arabia flight rotations.