Emirates SkyCargo is the world’s largest air cargo operator after FedEx
Emirates SkyCargo retained the number two spot as the largest (by volume carried) air cargo operator after FedEx, according to IATA’s World Air Transport Statistics report.
The latest IATA World Air Transport Statistics report shows that express operator FedEx was again the busiest cargo airline in the world with volumes improving by 3.8% year on year to 17.5bn freight tonne kms (FTK) in 2018.
It is likely to retain the top spot for the foreseeable future as it is in the process of upgrading its fleet.
Last year, the company ordered an additional 12 Boeing 777 Freighters and 12 B767Fs.
As of May 31, its fleet stood at 681 aircraft compared with 670 aircraft a year earlier and 657 in 2017.
When looking at pure cargo airlines, Emirates came top of the pile despite demand being flat at just over 12.7bn FTK.
In light of the weakening market conditions, the airline has shown its resolve in fleet discipline after downsizing its dry lease freighters from 15 to 11 aircraft over the past two years.
Nabil Sultan, divisional senior vice president at Emirates SkyCargo, recently told Air Cargo News that “every year has its own challenges” with 2018 blighted by higher fuel prices and the impact of the dollar currency exchange in Europe, China and the Indian sub-continent customer base.
The airline’s freighter fleet currently comprises 11 Boeing 777F aircraft, all leased from Dubai Aerospace Enterprise.
According to its own figures – IATA statistics do not include charter operations – the carrier recorded a 1.4% increase in cargo tonnage last year.
That increase, said Sultan, has a lot to do with the carrier’s diversification of its product portfolio over the past three to four years.
One immediate result of which was a 14% surge in pharma goods to 75,000 tonnes, a welcome increase at a time of economic uncertainty.
Sultan said that the carrier will remain flexible: “So far, utilisation has been good and we continue to operate decent load factors.
“However, looking at the economy, over the coming year we might have to re-evaluate what will happen to production and if you have to reduce some of the capacity, then we will definitely do that.
“It is important to know that we are fully utilising the freighters, and as the operator of a large freighter network, we always monitoring the trade situation very closely.”