Cainiao, the logistics arm of e-commerce giant Alibaba, is partnering with Qatar Airways Cargo on a new B777 freighter service between Hong Kong and South America.
The two-year deal includes the provision of 100 tonnes of dedicated weekly capacity from Hong Kong to São Paulo/Guarulhos International to capitalise on growing e-commerce demand.
Guillaume Halleux, chief officer cargo at Qatar Airways, told Air Cargo News that the partnership had been under discussion for years and came as online shopping demand had accelerated during the pandemic.
“It is one of the fastest growing verticals within the industry,” he said. “This sector is also witnessing burgeoning growth in the Latin American market with São Paulo being the largest import destination where there is a scheduled charter demand.”
Dandy Zhang, commercial director of global line haul, Cainiao’s cross-border business, added that diversifying its carrier partners on the trade lane would help improve supply chain integrity.
“We are witnessing a phenomenal rise in cross-border trade and parcel volume, particularly between China and Latin America,” she said.
“On the other hand, as air cargo scarcity has become a huge issue across the globe, we are deepening partnerships with different airline and logistics partners to ensure the cross-border logistics services for our customers and merchants.”
Halleux said that Qatar Cargo worked directly and indirectly with different types of e-commerce giants across its customer portfolio: marketplaces, logistics agents, couriers, and postal operators.
“The demand in the e-commerce market is too large to allow for an exclusive partnership or operator. So, we will definitely see a rise in partnerships with various companies for two reasons; spiralling demand for e-commerce shipments and the entrance of more e-commerce players in the market.”
On the impact of returning belly capacity on partnerships between e-commerce companies and freighter, Halleux added that belly operations would complement all-cargo flights as they offer high frequency capacity.
“We are very pleased to be increasing the cooperation scope and levelling the partnership up to become long-term strategic partners,” said Halleux.
“At Qatar Airways Cargo, we want to develop our product-mix and e-commerce is one of our focus areas. E-commerce brings Qatar Airways Cargo stable volumes over the entire year, and we support e-commerce partners by providing stable and structured capacity with our long-term flight schedule. This is win-win agreement.
“With our extensive fleet of 33 freighters and over 200 passenger (belly-hold) flights, we are able to provide dedicated capacity to our partners while also serving high demand trade lanes and charter requirements as well as operating our scheduled services.”
The service comes in addition to other partnerships Cainiao has on the trade lane and Zhang expects the company to add more in the future.
“In just over a year, Cainiao has established a comprehensive operation in Latin America, and we see that e-commerce retail in Brazil, in particular, is growing at a phenomenal rate,” said Zhang. “With Qatar Airways Cargo, we are in a good position to support that growth, and look forward to a long and fruitful partnership.”