Etihad Cargo, the cargo and logistics arm of the Etihad Aviation Group, has achieved record revenue growth of 49 per cent in 2021 as it continued to outperform expectations with a 27 per cent year-on-year increase in freight carried, contributing towards 55 per cent of the group’s revenue.
“2021 was a milestone year for Etihad Cargo,” said Martin Drew, Senior Vice President Sales & Cargo, Etihad Aviation Group. “The Etihad Cargo team has worked closer than ever with partners and customers to address their demands and allocate necessary capacity, resulting in a record tonnage of 729,200 tonnes – the highest since 2017.”
In Q1, Etihad Cargo temporarily modified five Boeing 777 aircraft to support cabin-loaded cargo, operating more than 800 charter and scheduled cargo flights in the new configuration in 2021, adding capacity along key strategic routes. By mid-2021, Etihad Cargo had announced the recovery of more than 90 per cent of its network compared to pre-COVID. In total, the carrier operated more than 6,000 passenger freighters throughout the year, with freighter utilisation averaging 16.5 hours.
Premium products have also seen remarkable growth: PharmaLife, the carrier’s award-winning pharmaceutical shipment solution, achieved a 85 per cent increase in revenue on 2020, while FreshForward, for transporting perishables, increased by 26 per cent. With the relaxation of travel restrictions, SkyStable, the carrier’s dedicated equine transportation solution, grew by 28 per cent, and SafeGuard, for transporting valuables, increased by 103 percent compared to 2020.
Despite the ongoing operational challenges imposed by new variants of the COVID-19 virus, the UAE national carrier also maintained a Delivered As Promise (DAP) rate of 84 per cent through the past 12 months and an on-time performance (OTP) of 84 per cent.
Over the past year, Etihad Cargo continued to facilitate critical COVID-19 vaccine distribution which contributes to 30 per cent of its pharmaceutical shipments. Jointly with its partners at the HOPE Consortium, over 250 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been handled to over 40 countries. In addition, several initiatives have been launched to facilitate the distribution and to position Abu Dhabi as a pharmaceutical and live science hub including establishing the first pharmaceutical distribution corridor between Abu Dhabi and Belgium. The corridor will facilitate the quick delivery of vaccines and meet future life science needs. The carrier is also working in tandem with UNICEF to transport aid globally following the signing of a five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to support the UN agency’s Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative.
Investing in digitalization has continued to be a key enabler to success. Augmenting customer service was a key focus of 2021 and Etihad Cargo’s new online booking portal was developed following extensive customer workshops to address their requirements, reducing the booking time to just 45 seconds. Since its launch in October, the company has recorded 36% increase in online bookings within three months of launching the new portal. In addition, the carrier has announced exploring a proof of concept with SPEEDCARGO for using Artificial Intelligence to measure cargo dimensions and optimize space planning, which will in turn allow Etihad Cargo to improve capacity planning.