Jan 24, 2014

Air Incheon to launch first regular cargo flight in Narita-Incheon in April

Air Incheon's B737-400F aircraft

The Incheon-based cargo carrier, Air Incheon (AIH) will venture into the operation of regular cargo flights in the Japan trade route. It will begin operating six flights (Monday-Saturday) between Narita and Incheon per week beginning April 21 (pending government approval). The plan on the services from early June and beyond is that three of the flights per week will be coursed through Kitakyushu, realizing regular cargo flights in the Narita-Kitakyushu-Incheon route. This will then become the first regular cargo flight in that lane for AIH. It has also been preparing to launch regular chartered flights in the Incheon-Qingdao and Yantai routes, although it is still awaiting approval from the authorities. AIH began operating in March last year by offering regular chartered flights at the Haneda and Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk lanes. This year, however, it aims to significantly expand its cargo flight network. UTS Air Service (led by its director general, Kwak Seong Ho) is its general service agency in Japan.

AIH operated regular chartered flights in the Japan route through the Haneda-Incheon service starting March last year, but it is not operating such flight at present anymore. Today, it only operates on a regular basis the twice-weekly flights (Wednesday and Sunday, regular cargo chartered flights) in the Incheon- Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk route. It seems that the Narita service this April will be the first regular cargo service of the company.

The Narita-Incheon service route is expected to kick off operation on April 21 with six flights per week, right after the permit is granted by the pertinent authorities. AIH plans to operate three of the flights in the Narita-Kitakyushu-Incheon lane starting early June. Ground handling will be entrusted to Swissport Japan in Narita and StarFlyer in Kitakyushu.

Eric Vercesi, vice president of AIH, talked about the meaning of operation at Narita, saying that, "Narita is a highly popular airport from the standpoint of Japanese forwarders." As for Kitakyushu, he claimed that, "With 24 hours of operation, it also has incentives for cargo carriers," indicating that the airport's low hurdles in terms of operating regular cargo flights is one of its main appeals. He also expressed expectations over the future of cargo business in Kitakyushu by pointing out that, "This is an airport where only one company currently operates cargo flights," and "We project a strong demand for the export of automotive parts and IT-related goods."

AIH has long aspired to launch regular cargo flights in the Japan trade route, attaching great importance on the selection of the specific points of operation in the country.

The carrier currently owns two B737-400F aircrafts. By capitalizing on the features of these aircrafts, it searched for trade routes where it would be able to capture a niche cargo demand. Now the company plans to order additional aircrafts, but it is predicted that it will basically align such orders with its existing B737 aircraft series. It will ascertain the specific type of aircrafts it will procure while advancing the selection of trade routes where it will run flights.

The B737-400F has a cargo loading capacity of about 15-16 tons. On its main deck are eight 96-inch pallets and its belly space can accommodate bulk cargoes.

AIH's own operational service is limited to the regular chartered flights in the Incheon-Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk route as of today, but it also has an ex-Incheon Europe/U.S.-bound network through the service routes of the airline companies with which it has entered into interline agreements. At present, it has interline agreements with Polar Air Cargo and American Airlines in the U.S. segment. It has also vowed to gradually increase the number of its affiliate airline companies in the Europe and Asia trade routes.

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