Interview with Fabrice Panza, global cool chain solutions manager at Etihad Cargo airline

Etihad increases capacity with new Airbus 350. In the last two years, Etihad Cargo has boosted its market share by 12.5 points across routes to Asia.
Tue 12/07/2022 by Gloria Zorrilla
Etihad Cargo has achieved impressive market share growth in Asia.
Etihad’s specialised premium solution for the transport of fresh fruit and vegetables, FreshForward, offers full logistics and storage capabilities.
Fabrice Panza, global cool chain solutions manager at Etihad Cargo.

What is your logistics and storage capacity? And what is your market share?

Etihad Cargo has established a dedicated perishables product team that is fully compliant with applicable regulations and certified by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Center of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV). IATA CEIV Fresh certification demonstrates Etihad Cargo’s compliance with Perishable Cargo Regulations (PCR), ensuring food safety and waste reduction, which reinforces trust and enables us, in partnership with our customers, to implement best practices across all required cool chain solutions.

IATA CEIV Fresh certification also gives our customers confidence that Etihad Cargo’s commercial activities and operations adhere to the highest industry standards and they can trust that Etihad Cargo’s FreshForward provides the fresh, fast, simple and efficient features they need from their air cargo partner of choice.

Our specialised premium solution for the transportation of fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy, fish, meat and flowers, FreshForward, offers full logistics and storage capabilities both at Etihad Cargo’s Abu Dhabi hub and within our international network, comprising over 60 stations. We ensure these stations are closely monitored and served by Etihad Cargo’s modern fleet of aircraft equipped with temperature-controlled holds.

Etihad Cargo has also partnered with highly compliant and professional ground handling agents and trucking logistics service providers to ensure the smooth and reliable handling and transfer of cargo by road whenever needed, providing Etihad Cargo’s customers with an end-to-end service.

Over the last two years, Etihad Cargo has increased its market share worldwide by 2.5 points and its UAE share by 4.3 points. From September 2021 to March 2022, Etihad Cargo also achieved impressive market share growth in other regions, gaining 12.5 points across routes from the Nordic countries to Asia, reaching 55% market share; Nairobi to Amsterdam increased by 6 points; and India to Asia improved by 12 points, which equates to the Etihad Cargo team capturing a 33% market share in a highly competitive market.

What storage capacities and volumes do you have for fresh products (fruits, vegetables and other fresh products)?

From our Abu Dhabi hub, Etihad Cargo can provide up to 15 aircraft positions for palletised perishables and 200 skids for loose perishables shipments requiring a temperature-controlled environment of between 15-25 °C. Furthermore, Etihad Cargo offers 30 aircraft positions for PMC pallets and 200 m2 of capacity for loose perishables requiring a temperature-controlled environment of between 2-8 °C.

What share do you allocate to the different perishable items and what growth have you recorded?

Etihad Cargo adapts capacity based on several factors, including demand, the seasons for main perishables and destination flows. Our dedicated teams work closely with Etihad Cargo’s customers to ensure we remain flexible and can meet their dynamic requirements, assessing needs on a weekly and sometimes even daily basis so we can adapt our offers and services to respond to these constant exchanges. Depending on the flow and time of year, Etihad Cargo dedicates 10-30% of its capacity to perishables.

In 2021, Etihad Cargo transported 14% more perishables volume globally than in the previous year. This upward trend has continued in the first quarter of 2022 across west-to-east flows.

Do you have any developments in other Asian markets or with air/sea transport operations abroad?

Etihad Cargo is in discussions with a shipping line company and is currently at the evaluation stage. As more concrete developments occur, we will be announcing them. To ensure we are meeting the requirements of Etihad Cargo’s customers in Asian markets, we are increasing our capacity per aircraft across key routes and destinations with the introduction of our new Airbus 350, which can accommodate a larger capacity of cargo volume. Etihad Cargo will also increase services over the course of 2022 and 2023, and these will be announced as they are launched.

For e-commerce & supermarkets, what specific strategies and solutions do you have in place for fresh products?

To ensure Etihad Cargo remains an air cargo partner of choice for the fresh products sector, we have recently appointed a dedicated e-commerce manager who is working closely with Etihad Cargo’s product team to meet the increasing demand for perishables ordered online. While the current demand for perishables ordered online is limited in terms of margins, we foresee this sector growing in the future for Etihad Cargo. You need only look at the increasing size and importance of e-commerce in consumers’ daily lives to realise we are going to see a shift in product requirements. There is a high probability we will start to see smaller perishables shipments that require express service levels, so providing temperature-controlled environments on a larger scale will play a more significant role in airlines’ operations.

When it comes to supermarkets, Etihad Cargo is collaborating closely with all relevant stakeholders to ensure we continue to enhance our processes and lead times when delivering perishables to the consignee. This includes supermarkets, freight forwarders, customers and phytosanitary inspectors when needed, as well as Etihad Cargo’s ground handling agents, who we work with to ensure perishables are transported as quickly and safely to their destination as possible.

What new services or processes/protocols do you have?

Wastage within the fresh produce industry is still high, which is why Etihad Cargo has invested in new thermal covers for perishables. We use these not only at our Abu Dhabi hub but also across key perishables stations within our network.

In addition to Etihad Cargo’s e-booking portal, where customers can book a wide range of FreshFoward services and features, Etihad Cargo is also planning to open an extended dedicated perishables centre and a new pharma centre by the end of Q3 2022. Etihad Cargo’s new facilities will enhance our FreshForward product offering and will benefit the perishables community with increased capacity, as well as provide a smoother transfer to Etihad Cargo’s FreshForward trucks when the products need to be delivered in the UAE or handed over to the consignee at Abu Dhabi Airport.

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