Asiana Airlines aims to expand its cargo revenues by 65% over the next four years and is considering phasing out its Boeing 747-400 Combis as its freighter fleet grows.

The South Korean carrier obtains around 31% of its revenues from cargo flights, with 482,000t carried last year. Mann Woo Chang, Asiana general manager for cargo and services, says it aims to increase annual tonnage to 790,000t by 2008 and raise the cargo component of its revenues to 35%. Over the same period, the carrier will enlarge its freighter fleet by three 747-400Fs, taking its total to eight.

The first aircraft is a new-build to be delivered from Boeing in January 2006, with the remaining two to be converted from the carrier's fleet of six Combis in 2007 and 2008. Chang adds that Asiana may phase out the remaining four Combis in favour of dedicated freighters, with a decision due next year.

Asiana expects much of the growth to come from freight trade with China and Japan, but Chang admits much depends on the successful negotiation of new air services agreements between the Seoul government and other Asian states.

As part of a cost-cutting exercise, Asiana has finished its roll-out of modular cargo management software, jointly developed with Indian software developer Kale Consultants, which acquired British Airways IT subsidiary Speedwing in 2001. The CSP software system will replace existing software and will lead to cost savings equal to 1% of Asiana's 2003 annual revenues of 840 billion won ($600 million), says Dong Nam Choi, Asiana's senior vice-president for information technology.

Kale Consultants airlines division president Ashish Malhotra says there is still "significant resistance among carriers to shift from 'business-as-usual' systems in the cargo divisions, when there are more pressing investment requirements in passenger divisions".

Meanwhile, Chang says Asiana "has tried and failed" to join a cargo alliance several times, with opposition to its joining Star Alliance shadow cargo alliance, Wow, coming from Singapore Airlines.



Source: Flight International