Polar sees opportunities as it adds sixth 747-8F
Polar Air Cargo Worldwide will deploy a sixth Boeing 747-8F in March ahead of plans to add one or two new scheduled destinations in 2015.
The upcoming 747-8F will be operated under an ACMI agreement with parent company Atlas Air. Its capacity will primarily be used by Polar’s minority shareholder DHL Express, although space will also be marketed to general cargo forwarders.
Polar’s pre-existing fleet of five 747-8Fs, seven 747-400Fs and two 767-300ERFs will remain in service, bringing the overall fleet size to 15.
“I think 2015 looks like a real good launching pad to get into growth,” chief operating officer Rob Hyslop tells Flightglobal. “We do have a couple of stations in mind … Successful service to a new station would probably require aircraft beyond 15.”
The scheduled cargo operator presently focusses on transpacific express routes between its US hubs in Cincinnati and Los Angeles and seven points in Asia (Hong Kong, Nagoya, Seoul, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Taipei and Tokyo) plus two points in Australia (Sydney and Melbourne).
Hyslop does not specify the new locations under review, although he says “the Chicagos, New Yorks, Miamis and Dallas’s of the world” will inevitably be candidates.
He adds that low fuel prices have spurred Polar’s appetite for expansion, making it easier for the cargo carrier to “weather the development of a new route … building up a customer base without such a risk to the bottom line”.
Freight traffic in Asia Pacific is also showing signs of a cyclical upturn, with IATA estimating that the region’s cargo operators grew freight tonne kilometres by 5.4% in 2014. That outpaced the global average of 4.5%, although yield pressure remains a concern.
“We’re seeing a re-speeding of the supply chain, where people are seeing some business advantages out of moving things faster,” Hyslop says. “People are opting for air cargo again.”
The upcoming 747-8F was freed up by the recent downgrading of Atlas’s ACMI contract with Swiss logistics firm Panalpina.