Emirates SkyCargo, the air freight division of Emirates Airlines, has signed a deal to use spare capacity on aircraft owned by TNT Express.
The expanded cooperation deal comes as TNT Express seeks ways to reduce the fixed operating costs of its global air fleet in the light of relatively weak demand for intercontinental shipment.
TNT Airways, the integrator’s airline subsidiary, signed a code-share and blocked-space agreement today that will see Emirates SkyCargo placing its airline code and using cargo space on two routes, across the Atlantic and between Europe and the Far East.
The deal will even see increased weekly frequencies for the two routes, using TNT’s Boeing 777 freighters on the route from New York JFK to Liege, Belgium, and on the route from Hong Kong to Dubai to Liege.
Flights on the Hong Kong-Dubai-Liege route will be stepped up to six times per week, while the JFK-Liege route will see five flights each week.
TNT Express chief executive Marie-Christine Lombard said the deal would leave TNT Airways as the operating airline, maintaining the required visibility and control for its customers, but would help cut operating costs on the routes.
She said: “The code-share agreement of TNT Airways with Emirates SkyCargo will allow TNT Express to continue to offer excellent international delivery services to its customers, while optimising use of the long-haul fleet.”
TNT Express, which is currently being courted as a possible acquisition target by UPS and is also facing calls for changes at board level because of its recent trading performances, has been trying to optimise its fleet of 777s and 747s since last year.
Facing reduced demand particularly in the Asia-to-Europe trade routes, the company is aiming to reduce the number of its owned aircraft from five to two or three.
The company already has cooperation deals in place to use capacity of partners including ABX Air, Gestair, Air Atlanta, Icelandair, Bluebird, Cargo Air and Ukraine International.
Emirates SKyCargo has a fleet of 171 aircraft, including eight dedicated freighter aircraft serving 121 destinations in 72 countries, including four 747s and four 777s. It carried 1.8m tonnes of cargo in 2010-11.
The company said the deal with TNT Airways would open up its trade routes into Liege Airport.
Ram Menen, Emirates’ divisional senior vice president for cargo, said: “Joining forces with TNT Airways will enable us to facilitate more international trade by providing our customers new business opportunities through increased connectivity between US and the Middle East, as well as Dubai and Hong Kong.”