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A weak transatlantic airfreight market has not dented the appetite of two aspiring European freighter operators – despite signs that some airlines may be forced to ground aircraft.

New German operator USC (Universal Sky Carrier) told the US Department of Transportation it expected to receive its German AOC in “early July”, and has applied to carry cargo between the EU and US.

USC has one A340-300 parked in Frankfurt, which is awaiting conversion by Avensis, with an A340-600 also due to deliver. It is currently advertising for pilots.

USC may be hoping the market will have improved by the time it is able to operate. But that may not happen for another freighter start-up, the UK’s Air One.

Air One has received approval to operate to the US, it has its AOC and a 32-year-old 747-400F. The carrier appears to be in a testing phase, with the aircraft operating short flights between Cardiff, Chateauroux, Ostend and Liege.

But, according to the TAC Index, transatlantic rates are bouncing along the bottom, roughly mirroring where they were in 2019. Frankfurt-based USC is likely to see the best rates: Frankfurt to North America is currently the highest transatlantic rate, at $2.14 per kg, while Heathrow to North America is $1.41. Eastbound, rates are lower still.

Sources have warned that rates – combined with inflation-driven costs – are too low for some carrier business models, in particular those that did not manage to fill a war chest during the pandemic. That will make it particularly hard for start-ups as they fight carriers that can afford a few months of low rates to keep volumes.

When established carriers which operated through the pandemic, such as Western Global Airlines, are struggling, start-ups in a weak market are likely to find the going tough.

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  • Soudani Brahim

    July 19, 2023 at 4:54 pm

    However, I am looking for 1x B747F for CDG/CAN charter flights and I cannot find it!