To take advantage of the growing manufacturing sector in China's interior, IAG Cargo, the amalgamation of British Airways World Cargo and Iberia Cargo, will add thrice-weekly cargo service between London Heathrow and Chengdu starting Sept. 22.
The flights will be performed by Boeing 777 aircraft.
“Over the last few years we have seen a migration in manufacturing from the Yangtze River Delta to the Sichuan Province in China, centered on its capital city, Chengdu. This new service will help us support customers in this region by connecting them to our global network via our Heathrow hub," IAG said.
Cargo activity at IAG for November fell flat, ending the month with a
1.7-percent, year-over-year decline in tonnage. Over the same period,
capacity increased by 1.8 percent.
The new service comes amid a bit of turmoil for parent company International Airlines Group. In November, IAG outlined a transformation plan for Iberia that contained 4,500 job cuts — the majority of them coming from early retirements — to save the failing airline. The carrier and unions that represent nearly all of its employees recently agreed to negotiate terms of the company's transformation plan on a five-year contract. Before entering negotiations, the unions had been threatening to strike throughout December. Meetings between Iberia and its pilot's union, SEPLA, have been unfruitful.
Iberia's transformation plan also includes the goal of stemming Iberia's cash losses by 2013 and reaching a 12-percent return on capital by 2015. The carrier's fleet will be downsized by 25 aircraft, the majority of which will be short-haul planes, and capacity in 2013 will be cut by 15 percent. - Jon Ross