Virgin joins Air France-KLM-Delta transatlantic cargo JV

Date: Tuesday, February 4, 2020
Source: Lloyd's List

Expanded partnership represents 23% of total transatlantic air cargo capacity – or more than 600,000 tonnes annually – offering a combined network of up to 341 daily services

Virgin Atlantic Cargo has joined the longstanding transatlantic air cargo joint venture between Air France-KLM Cargo and Delta Air Lines Cargo, creating an expanded partnership representing 23% of total transatlantic air cargo capacity – or more than 600,000 tonnes annually.

The new partnership builds on the growing group and cargo partnership between Virgin Atlantic and its 49% partial owner Delta Air Lines that has included a transatlantic air cargo capacity partnership and joint cargo handling operations at a number of stations. KLM Cargo and Northwest Airlines had one of the longest-standing cargo joint ventures on the transatlantic prior to their respective acquisitions by Air France and Delta, partnerships that have continued and expanded further between Air France-KLM Cargo and Delta Air Lines Cargo and within the SkyTeam Cargo alliance.

The carriers said that with the addition of Virgin Atlantic Cargo, the carriers were “promising cargo customers more connections, greater shipment routing flexibility, improved trucking options, aligned services and innovative digital solutions with the launch of their expanded transatlantic joint venture (JV). They said the new partnership “will enable the airlines to offer the best-ever customer experience, and a combined network of up to 341 peak daily transatlantic services – a choice of 110 nonstop routes with onward connections to 238 cities in North America, 98 in Continental Europe and 16 in the UK.”

Customers will be able to “leverage an enhanced network built around the airlines’ hubs in Amsterdam, Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, London Heathrow, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York-JFK, Paris, Seattle and Salt Lake City”, a network that “creates convenient nonstop or one-stop connections to every corner of North America, Europe and the U.K., giving customers the added confidence of delivery schedules being met by a wide choice of options”.

The carriers said the expanded JV “enables greater co-operation between the airlines, focused on delivering world-class customer service and reliability on both sides of the Atlantic achieved through co-located facilities, joint trucking options as well as seamless bookings and connected service recovery. The airlines already co-locate at warehouses in key US, UK and European airports, and will review opportunities to co-locate further at more airports around the globe”. 

Adriaan den Heijer, executive vice president of Air France-KLM Cargo, said: “We are very excited to welcome Virgin Atlantic Cargo to the successful trans-Atlantic Joint Venture between Air France-KLM Cargo and Delta Cargo. The combined network means more choices and value for our customers as we align our services to enable seamless transfers and further streamlining of transport times. This enhanced joint venture offers the most and best trans-Atlantic options ever in the cargo industry.”

Expertise in specialised products

The four airlines said they “will leverage their expertise in the transportation of specialised products, including end-to-end GDP and IATA CEIV quality compliance for pharmaceuticals, supported by dedicated teams and facilities across the globe. The JV will allow the airlines to provide customers with a diversified product range to best suit their individual requirements.”

Shawn Cole, vice president of Delta Cargo, said: “This announcement is just the first step in the journey. Our customers can expect additional benefits as we evolve our partnership further to deliver best-in class customer experience and operational reliability, with differentiated products and services that are tailored and developed to make it easier to do business with the four airlines.”

The four carriers said customers will be able to book their shipments “with knowledgeable local teams and by using new digital solutions designed to reduce duplication and drive efficiencies as a result of greater connectively between the airlines’ systems. Alongside the development of a growing choice of self-service technology options, customers will continue to enjoy the support of co-located customer service centres to enhance their cargo delivery experience.”

Virgin Atlantic Cargo’s managing director, Dominic Kennedy said: “Our great partnership with Delta has already enriched the benefits we offer to our customers. With our expanded JV with Air France-KLM Cargo, we are even more excited about the benefits we will be bringing for our customers as we work with like-minded partners to deliver greater value across our outstanding trans-Atlantic network.”   

Air France-KLM Cargo is also a member of SkyTeam Cargo, the leading global airline cargo alliance established September 2000 that has built on the constituent airlines’ membership of the SkyTeam passenger airline alliance. Its current members are Aeroflot Cargo, Aerolineas Argentinas Cargo, Aeromexico Cargo, Air France Cargo, Alitalia Cargo, China Airlines Cargo, China Cargo Airlines, Czech Airlines Cargo, Delta Cargo, KLM Cargo, Korean Air Cargo, and Saudia Airlines Cargo Company. SkyTeam Cargo serves over 900 destinations in more than 175 countries, with SkyTeam Cargo partners adopting four common products: Express, General, Specialized and Customized.

Virgin Atlantic said it currently has no plans to join SkyTeam “but will continue to evaluate this opportunity”.



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