x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Etihad to start Beijing freight service

Etihad Airways will start operating a twice-weekly freight service from Abu Dhabi International Airport to Beijing later this month

Etihad Airways will start operating a twice-weekly freight service from Abu Dhabi International Airport to Beijing later this month as it moves to capture an upsurge in world trade. The service will start on August 11 using an MD-11 freighter with a payload of 88 tonnes on the route. "We are delighted to announce our first dedicated freighter service to Beijing," said Roy Kinnear, the senior vice president of Etihad Crystal Cargo. "Our operations to Beijing will reinforce Etihad's position in the Chinese market, adding to our existing five times a week passenger service between Abu Dhabi and Beijing."

Air freight is considered an early indicator of the health of the global economy. It began a decline in late 2007 prior to the global financial crisis and has climbed back steadily since the end of last year as companies in Europe, Africa and the Middle East restocked inventories to participate in the global economic recovery. This year, between January and June, the Middle East air cargo market as measured in freight tonne kilometres has climbed 34.1 per cent year compared with the same period a year ago, according to the International Air Transport Association.

The UAE carriers Etihad and Emirates Airline are becoming major players in the transcontinental air cargo market, picking up pharmaceuticals, electronics, car parts and consumer goods from export nations in the East and carrying them to consumer nations in the West. With its fleet of two Airbus A300-600 aircraft and two Boeing MD-11s, Etihad Crystal Cargo has 22 cargo freighter destinations in the Middle East and Africa and 70 destinations across the globe.

The airline is the launch customer of a new A330 cargo aircraft scheduled for delivery next week and will receive a second plane next month, with entry into commercial service in October. These deliveries will increase Etihad's cargo capacity by 16 per cent. The aircraft is able to carry up to 64 tonnes of goods and has a range of 7,400km. It will be used to transport goods from Asian manufacturing bases to Abu Dhabi from where it will be redistributed by Etihad passenger aircraft to final destinations in Europe, as well as serving markets in Africa.

Earlier this year, Etihad's Crystal Cargo services added two new scheduled destinations to its network: Irbil in Iraq; and N'Djamena in Chad. igale@thenational.ae