Saudia Alibaba deal highlights cargo silver lining to pandemic slump for Mideast airlines

Middle Eastern airlines posted a 6% rise in international cargo volumes in January 2021 versus 2019

  
Image used for illustrative purpose. According to IATA report, the global air freight markets demand fell by 27.7% in April 2020, compared to the previous year. Image used for illustrative purpose

Image used for illustrative purpose. According to IATA report, the global air freight markets demand fell by 27.7% in April 2020, compared to the previous year. Image used for illustrative purpose

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DUBAI: Rising cargo volumes have emerged as one of the few positives for regional carriers as passenger numbers plummet amid the pandemic.

Middle Eastern airlines posted a 6 percent rise in international cargo volumes in January 2021 versus 2019, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Cargo to Asia and North America routes, which grew 15.1 percent and 13.9 percent respectively – contributed the most to this growth, the IATA data showed.

“If air cargo was not doing as well, the industry as a whole would be in even deeper trouble,” said IATA chief Alexandre de Juniac during a presentation on Tuesday as the travel body also announced global air cargo recovery to pre-pandemic levels.

The big Gulf carriers are increasingly looking to offset the devastating reduction in global passenger traffic by boosting their cargo operations. Demand for such cargo operations is on the rise as more people shop online on platforms such as Amazon and China’s Alibaba.

Last week, Saudia Cargo signed an agreement with the logistic arm of Alibaba to increase intercontinental e-commerce operations.

The deal will support operations between China and Europe by operating five weekly flights from Hong Kong to Liege with the Saudi capital Riyadh as a connecting point.

Omar Hariri, chief executive of Saudia Cargo, said the partnership was part of the Kingdom’s wider campaign to open up to global trade. “Other promising partnerships will be coming up in the near future to reinforce logistic operations of Alibaba in both continents,” he added.

Saudi Arabia’s Saudia Cargo has utilized its cargo business since the pandemic broke out in March last year, increasing its cargo flights to many key destinations in Africa, Europe, Asia, and the US.

Copyright: Arab News © 2021 All rights reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).

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