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Alibaba expands cargo airline service to Brazil with Qatar Airways

Latin America e-commerce growth drives need for more freighters

A Qatar Airways freighter at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Cainiao Network, the logistics arm of Chinese online retail platform Alibaba Group, said it has entered an agreement with Qatar Airways to provide weekly all-cargo charter flights from Hong Kong to São Paulo, one of the company’s fastest-growing e-commerce destinations in Latin America.

Qatar is operating the service with a Boeing 777 freighter. The first flight departed Saturday, making a technical stop at Qatar’s hub in Doha, with beauty and fashion goods, jewelry, watches, appliances, toys, and sports equipment.

The move supplements Cainiao’s charter network with Atlas Air (NASDAQ: AAWW). Last month, the Chinese logistics company inked a long-term charter agreement for an extra 747-400 freighter to increase capacity to the Americas. The new aircraft will enter service in the second quarter, linking China with Brazil and Chile and bringing Cainiao’s dedicated fleet to six jumbo jets. The service started with one aircraft in October 2020.

“Cainiao’s mission is to deliver globally within 72 hours; a goal that can be achieved with the right logistics partners. 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. With Qatar Airways Cargo, we are in a good position to support that growth,” said William Xiong, Cainiao’s chief strategist and general manager for export logistics, in a statement Tuesday. “Cainiao has experienced a three-figure growth rate in its Latin American business over the past year and has driven a focused air cargo network expansion in recent months to secure smooth supply chain performance.”

Cainiao said in November it now offers a 12-day delivery service in Brazil’s core metropolitan areas after the number of parcels shipped to Brazil in September tripled in volume year-over-year. The company also plans to establish a distribution center in Brazil to offer next-day or even same-day delivery in partnership with local delivery firms.

Click here for more FreightWaves/American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch.


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Eric Kulisch

Eric is the Supply Chain and Air Cargo Editor at FreightWaves. An award-winning business journalist with extensive experience covering the logistics sector, Eric spent nearly two years as the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Automotive News, where he focused on regulatory and policy issues surrounding autonomous vehicles, mobility, fuel economy and safety. He has won two regional Gold Medals from the American Society of Business Publication Editors for government coverage and news analysis, and was voted best for feature writing and commentary in the Trade/Newsletter category by the D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. As associate editor at American Shipper Magazine for more than a decade, he wrote about trade, freight transportation and supply chains. Eric is based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached for comments and tips at [email protected]