Southwest promotes æarrrÆ cargo
Southwest is best known as the low-budget carrier with a sense of humor. In its formative years, especially, flight attendants were known for their campy jokes designed to make passengers feel at home.
Now that same marketing style is being applied to its cargo business.
Holding the line for customer service after a recent Southwest flight, I was treated to the following jingle to the tune of a sea chantey:
Announcer: 'You know, cargo is one of those words that's much more fun to say if you're a pirate.
'C-A-R-R-R-R-R-R-G-O. So here's a pirate song about Southwest Cargo.'
Blackbeard (singing): 'Got a package that needs to go from here to there? Well, Southwest Cargo can take it anywhere.
'With Next Flight Guaranteed or RUSH Priority Freight.
'When you need it right now, it can't wait. If you need anything else, please don't hesitate to call.'
FedEx reloads on 777s
FedEx Express has decided to exercise its option to purchase an additional 15 777 freighters.
The Memphis, Tenn., courier recently postponed delivery of its first tranche of 15 777s for a year or more because of a downturn in business. The planes are scheduled for delivery over the course of three years, beginning in 2010.
FedEx is the largest customer so far for the new 777 freighter, which is undergoing test flights. Air France is the launch customer. Eighty-eight planes have been ordered.
A FedEx regulatory filing indicated it will pay about $2.8 billion over 10 years for the second order, compared with a list price of $3.75 billion.
The move is a sign that FedEx expects the international air freight market – which was down 13.5 percent in November and is likely to get worse – will eventually bounce back.
Boeing orders fall back in '08
The Boeing Co. said it recorded 662 net commercial airplane orders in 2008, a drop of more than 50 percent, bringing its backlog of unfilled commercial orders to more than 3,700 airplanes.
The next-generation 737 remained the company's best seller, with 484 chosen last year by customers from nearly every region of the world. Demand for the all-new 787 Dreamliner also remained strong with 93 ordered, primarily by Middle East customers.
During 2008, 375 airplanes were delivered to customers worldwide: 290 737s (including six Boeing Business Jets), 14 747s, 10 767s and 61 777s. Deliveries were affected by a machinists strike that halted commercial production for several weeks and production problems with the 787. After ramping up from the two month-strike, deliveries were further slowed after Boeing had to replace thousands of malfunctioning fasteners on all planes under assembly.
Despite the falloff in orders, Boeing recorded its eighth best year of sales. In 2004, Boeing sold 272 planes.
Last year, Boeing debuted the 777 Freighter and delivered the first Boeing Converted 767 Freighter.
Airbus recaptured the title of largest aircraft producer with more orders in 2008 and also surpassed Boeing in deliveries.
Meanwhile, Boeing said employment at its Commercial Airplanes business unit is expected to decline by about 4,500 positions in 2009 as part of an effort to ensure competitiveness and control costs in the face of a weakening global economy.
The reduction will bring Commercial Airplanes' employment to about 63,500, similar to the level it was at the start of 2008. Force reductions will take place through normal attrition, a reduction in contract labor and layoffs. Many of the jobs will be in overhead functions and other areas not directly associated with airplane production.
Cathay's December volume plummets 24%
Cathay Pacific and sister airline Dragonair saw cargo volume drop 23.9 percent to 115,232 tons in December, compared to the same month in 2007.
The drop came as Cathay and Dragonair withdrew 14 percent of their capacity to better meet falling demand. The airlines' cargo and mail load factor dropped 5.7 percent to 62.9 percent.
For 2008, cargo volume fell 1.6 percent to 1.6 million tons compared to a capacity rise of 0.7 percent.
'There was no sign of any pre-Christmas rush in 2008 and weak demand globally led to tonnage falling faster than we could cut capacity,' said Titus Diu, general manager of cargo sales and marketing. 'We saw a big decline in goods being carried from the Pearl and Yangtze River deltas last month, causing a further slump in the Hong Kong market. We expect the market to remain weak in the first quarter of 2009 and we have revised our capacity to Europe and North America downwards in line with expected demand.'
In January, Cathay announced heavy losses from fuel hedging as the price of jet fuel dropped. In the latest issue of the company's internal magazine, CX World, Chief Executive Officer Tony Tyler emphasized that the $980 million in estimated losses aren't cash losses, but will be determined by what the market rate for fuel is in 2009.
Worse than those losses, Tyler said, 'is the falloff in our revenue streams – already quite pronounced and which we expect may get worse. The situation for our cargo business is even worse, with a sharp fall in demand. The only glimmer of good news right now is the fact that fuel prices have fallen so much, but the reason for that is the weak world economy – which is also the cause of our revenue problems.'
UPS adds domestic service in 16 countries
UPS said it has increased the number of countries in which it offers domestic express pickup and delivery from 29 to 45.
The nations involved in the expansion are Algeria, Argentina, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Malta, Pakistan, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, Ukraine and U.A.E.
Shippers would have the benefit of using a single carrier if they wish and using UPS systems for tracking and billing both domestic and international shipments, it noted. UPS offers international package delivery service into and out of more than 200 countries and territories.
The company also noted that it's UPS Store and Mailboxes Etc. network has expanded to 6,000 locations worldwide, a 25 percent increase from five years ago when UPS bought Mailboxes Etc.
The stores operate as licensed franchises of Mail Boxes Etc.