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Air cargo forwarders driving expansion of US freighter operations

In June, German forwarder Senator International extended its dedicated transatlantic freighter service from Germany’s Hahn Airport to Greenville-Spartanburg (GSP) in South Carolina, to a weekly connection to RFD. Senator runs multiple weekly flights on the Hahn-GSP route.
“And we’re expecting this to increase to three times a week,” Mr Ryan said.
As the second-largest US hub in the UPS network, RFD’s growth in recent years has been driven primarily by parcel traffic, but was further boosted by the launch of dedicated freighter flights for Amazon.

The arrival of the B747-400 freighter for Senator marked the first regular international heavy freight operation for the airport.

At the launch of the service, Senator management described the airport as “an optimal distribution option for the entire Midwest of the US”, and according to Mr Ryan, there is more interest in all-cargo operations to RFD.

“What we’re seeing is a distinct uptick, particularly from forwarders with regular charters,” he said, adding that freighter operators had also shown interest.

Senator has been using dedicated freighter capacity across the Atlantic on a regular basis since 2016. In 2018 it started a similar operation to South Africa.

Bryan Schreiber, manager air cargo business development at Columbus Regional Airport Authority, also sees forwarders in the driving seat of emerging regular freighter operations. He has been talking with several forwarders about using Rickenbacker Airport as a gateway to the US market.

“We’ve had conversations with airlines already pre-Covid, but a lot is driven by forwarders,” he said. “Airlines have been so busy chartering, reconfiguring their networks. They’re focused on that,” he said.

Between mid-May and late June, New York-based forwarder Wen-Parker Logistics ran dedicated cargo charters from Hanoi to Rickenbacker, for the most part carrying PPE traffic.

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