Emirates and United Airlines sign air cargo agreement following codeshare pact

The airlines' cargo units will build on existing interline agreements and expand to new markets

Nabil Sultan, Emirates' divisional senior vice president, Cargo, left, and Jan Krems, president, United Cargo, at the signing of the agreement. Photo: Emirates SkyCargo
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Emirates and United Airlines have agreed to work more closely together on air cargo operations following a codeshare pact announced earlier this month between the two airlines.

Emirates SkyCargo and United Cargo signed a preliminary agreement to build on existing freight interline agreements, offering their customers access to more capacity on a larger combined global network, the Dubai-based airline said in a statement on Friday.

They will also expand on block space agreements, which are purchased by freight forwarders for space on a flight, pending regulatory approvals.

“Co-operating with United, who is a leading airline in its own right with strengths and a network that are complementary to our own, will allow us to add value for our customers and help them reach new markets more speedily,” Nabil Sultan, Emirates' divisional senior vice president of Cargo, said.

The cargo agreement comes after the two airlines announced a codeshare deal along with non-stop flights between Newark and Dubai on September 14 in an event in Dulles International Airport near Washington.

In 2021, Emirates ranked the second-biggest globally after Qatar Airways in terms of freight tonne kilometres, a measure of cargo demand, according to analysis by US plane maker Boeing.

Emirates' air freight arm transports cargo to more than 140 destinations across a global network spanning six continents. The air cargo carrier operates a fleet of all-widebody Boeing 777, Airbus A380 aircraft and 11 dedicated B777-F freighters.

Under the terms of the cargo agreement, Emirates SkyCargo will get access to more than 200 cities in the US and 300 cities across five continents through United Cargo.

United Cargo, meanwhile, will have access to Emirates SkyCargo’s high frequency distribution network through the belly-hold of passenger flights to more than 100 global destinations and 11 freighters.

“Emirates SkyCargo is an important player in the industry, and our supplementary capabilities allow us to provide new service offerings to our customers worldwide,” Jan Krems, president of United Cargo, said.

In July, global air cargo demand continued to track at near pre-pandemic levels, but below July 2021 performance, according to the monthly report by the International Air Transport Association (Iata).

Global demand in July, measured in cargo tonne-kilometres, fell 9.7 per cent compared to July 2021 and stood 3.5 per cent below July 2019, Iata said.

“Volatility resulting from supply chain constraints and evolving economic conditions has seen cargo markets essentially move sideways since April,” Iata director general Willie Walsh said.

“July data shows us that air cargo continues to hold its own, but as is the case for almost all industries, we’ll need to carefully watch both economic and political developments over the coming months,” he said.

Updated: September 30, 2022, 2:06 PM