Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) is known as one of the world’s premier passenger airlines. Millions fly in its iconic white and blue jets annually with a large percentage connecting through its global hub of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. What’s hidden from most fliers is the scale of its cargo operations, which is a lot bigger than most would think.
Delta Air Lines’ Vice President of Delta Cargo Shawn Cole gave FreightWaves CEO Craig Fuller insights on Delta’s freight operations on the FreightWavesTV show, “Fuller Speed Ahead.”
According to Delta, the airline carries 2.2 billion cargo ton-miles each year. Delta Cargo has over 2,000 employees worldwide who work alongside their passenger-focused counterparts. A typical Delta airplane carries passengers and their luggage in addition to freight of all kinds.
“When you’re flying on that airplane, if you’re going on a business trip to Heathrow or to Amsterdam, there’s freight on there, both ways. It could be car and jet parts, asparagus or bell peppers. Really what we try to do in Delta Cargo is kind of have that same sensibility that Delta [Air Lines] has, which is to be reliable, thoughtful and innovative every time.”
In fact, many industries globally rely on air cargo to move perishables to and from the United States. Cole mentioned that many fruits, vegetables, and even pharmaceutical goods are stored in the belly of Delta jets.
“We move a lot of perishables out of South America into the U.S. and then to the various gateways in Asia and Europe. We also move [products] from Europe into the U.S. such as bell peppers and seafood as well from South America and the Bering Sea.”
With cargo stored on passenger planes, because of tight schedules, the airplane will take off whether the cargo is ready or not. Being on-time in this industry is an absolute must.
Keeping a global cargo operation in the air is a challenge, but Cole is no stranger to the industry. It’s only his second year as Delta Cargo vice president, but Cole is an 11-year veteran with the airline.
“We fly to six continents; we have over 300 destinations worldwide including 200 domestically. Those flights are going to leave on time each and every day, and because of what we’re doing and other airlines as well, we’ve taken the “cancel flight” out of the equation,” Cole said.
Last month, FreightWaves signed an enterprise-level agreement to provide Delta Cargo with global intelligence through its FreightWaves SONAR platform. Delta Cargo is FreightWaves’ first airline partner, and it will provide Delta with dedicated access to both the FreightWaves data science team and Market Expert team, as reported earlier by FreightWaves.
FreightWaves is the leading provider of market intelligence to the global freight industry. The company’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) product, FreightWaves SONAR, provides near-real time analytics and context for cargo and economic movement throughout the world. FreightWaves’ customers are market participants with direct and indirect exposure in the trucking, maritime, air cargo and intermodal freight markets.
Editor’s note: FreightWaves has a SONAR business relationship with Delta. However, editorial decisions are made independently.