October 28 - Qatar Airways Cargo has unveiled plans to build a large new cargo terminal at Doha's Hamad International Airport by 2018; while latest IATA international FTK figures suggest that it is now the third largest international cargo airline in the
Akbar Al Baker, group chief executive of Qatar Airways, explained that the new facility will allow the airline's cargo division to handle 4.4 million tonnes of cargo per year by 2018, compared with its current 1.4 million-tonne capacity. Al Baker also said that the 292,000 sq m new cargo terminal would see the airline's cargo handling volumes increase to 7 million tonnes per year in the future.
The Middle Eastern airline also revealed plans to invest in six new freighters over the next two years, with a seventh and eighth A330-200F scheduled to join its fleet in December 2015 and March 2016 respectively; and four new B777-200F aircraft expected to enter service between June 2016 and March 2017. "This will take our total fleet to 21 freighter aircraft by 2017," explained Al Baker. "We have more aircraft up our sleeve if we need them."
Al Baker also discussed the decision to add a B747-400F to its fleet earlier this year. The airline is currently leasing an aircraft from Turkish carrier myCARGO Airlines, but will replace the current model with Boeing-converted nose-loading version, also on lease from myCARGO, by the end of 2015.
"The B747 was invested in to carry outsize cargo," said Al Baker. "It has given us the opportunity to fill a small void in our fleet. There is a possibility that we may lease more of these nose-loading aircraft to increase capacity."
Ulrich Ogiermann, chief officer cargo at Qatar Airways, added that the airline was prompted to invest in such capacity due to the demand for oversize cargo shipments into Qatar. "Qatar is building railways, metros and bridges. That was the trigger for this new B747."
He was, however, more sceptical than Al Baker about the expansion of the airline's oversize cargo business. "Outsize cargo is currently only 1 to 1.5 percent of all the cargo that we are carrying. But the new aircraft allows us to offer a more complete logistics solution, handling entire projects for our clients."
Qatar Airways Cargo also revealed the launch of two new speciality products: QR Equine, which will focus on the transportation of horses, and QR Express, which will provide the quick delivery of general cargo shipments.
"We don't want to be Fedex, DHL or UPS, but we want to play a part," said Al Baker.
He also made some controversial claims about the so-called 'legacy carriers' and their loss of market share, which he attributed to their inefficiency compared with Qatar Airways, as well as their insignificant infrastructure.
"We are not interested in becoming number one but providing good service and efficiency," he added. "We are aiming at up to 25 to 30 percent of our revenue coming from the cargo business."
Al Baker suggested that in the next five years, "at least one or two industry players will bow out of the race", but would not elaborate on the airlines in question.