India has potential to be global cargo hub: Ulrich Ogiermann

Written by Roudra Bhattacharya | Updated: Aug 6 2014, 08:22am hrs
Qatar is working towards becoming one of the worlds top five global commercial cargo hubs by 2018, and Qatar Airways cargo unit will be riding this growth.

In tune with this ambition, the airline will increase capacity by adding six more freighters to its fleet of nine Boeing and Airbus aircraft. In an interview with FEs Roudra Bhattacharya, Ulrich Ogiermann, chief executive-cargo, Qatar Airways, explains the importance of India in the airlines expansion plans. The carrier looks to offer sector-specific air cargo solutions in India. Excerpts:

Where do you see the potential for growth in India over the next few years

The pharmaceutical sector is an important industry and one that has seen major growth and development in India. According to a McKinsey report, the Indian pharmaceutical market will grow to $55 billion by 2020. India is also a major producer of perishable foods. The overall perishable food production in India is over 350 million tonnes.

With the launch of our solution for pharmaceuticals, QR Pharma, in January this year, we are able to provide convenient and reliable air carriage to the important pharmaceutical industry. Our QR Fresh solution offers air freight services for perishables and temperature-sensitive goods. In addition, Qatar Airways has moved to the new Hamad International Airport (HIA) in May. The state-of-the-art cargo facility at HIA, spanning 55,000 square metres, contains a perishables storage area, amongst other key facilities, such as a live animal centre and dangerous goods area. The new self-contained cargo terminal will handle 1.4 million tonnes of cargo per annum.

How many flights do you operate in India at present

India, with its continued growth in exports, imports and manufacturing industry, has the potential to become a global cargo hub. It is indeed an important market for Qatar Airways cargo business. Currently, we operate a total of 12 weekly freighters to Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai. On top of that, we use the belly space on our passenger aircraft, operating to Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Kozhikode and Mumbai, for more than 85 flights per week to and from India. We see on-going opportunities for Qatar Airways to further penetrate the Indian market. India is one of our key markets for future growth, and we are confident that cooperation between Qatar Airways cargo division and Indian exporters and importers will only grow stronger.

How do you plan to challenge the established players

Due to the high competition in the region, we are always striving to differentiate ourselves by providing our customers with the best products and services in the market. We are, therefore, engaged in an ongoing dialogue with our customers in order to understand their expectations and needs, and to offer them reliable services that optimise cost and operational efficiencies across their supply chain. Our hub Doha is ideally located between Europe, North America and the Asian markets. Air Freight in the Middle East is on an upward trajectory. The migration of all cargo operations to the Hamad International Airport will further spur growth as Qatar is well on track to reach its objective of becoming one of the worlds top five global commercial cargo hubs.

Are you interested in the domestic air cargo market And would you look at acquiring or partnering with an existing operator, and are you in talks

We are actively monitoring the market for opportunities. From May, we started operating five weekly Boeing 777 freighters from Hong Kong to London, as part of our long-term agreement with IAG Cargo. The growth in the cargo market has fuelled massive expansion in our business and this new agreement allows us to deliver an optimal level of service, convenience and flexibility to our worldwide cargo customers, particularly Hong Kong, which we recognise as one of our key markets.