CARGO FOCUS AT THAITHAI Airways has relied on passenger travel for its revenues since it came into existence but the air carrier now sees a golden opportunity in making Bangkok a regional air cargo hub.
During the celebration of THAI Airways 50th anniversary at the Shangri-La Hotel in Bangkok, Pichai Chunganuwad, Managing Director of THAI’s Cargo and Commercial Mail, talked to Asean Affairs not only about security issues but the new expectations for its cargo operations.
The security of air cargo shipments has become the primary issue in the air transport field. This was underlined by the recent interception of aircraft bound for the United States carrying explosives THAI, which has been largely a passenger airline throughout its 50-year history, aspires to become a major Asian freight operator in the same league as Korean Air, which generates major revenue from the air cargo business.
During the next decade THAI plans to have a fleet of eight airplanes including the Boeing 747F and smaller regional cargo planes. THAI also plans to add a mediumrange aircraft in the range of 40-50 tonnes such as the Airbus A300-600 or Boeing 767 for regional routes.
That cargo plane expected to enter the fleet in 2011 will support the long-haul freight forwarding capacity of two Boeing 777-200 LRF freighters operated by the U.S.-based Southern Air with which THAI has a space purchase agreement. The regional freighter enables THAI to be a player in the rapidly growing air cargo traffic business in China and India. The Southern agreement allowed THAI for the first time to meet longer-distance bulk shipment requirements outside its current network.
In the near term, THAI is looking to acquire a medium-haul freighter with a payload of 40-50 tonnes, such as Airbus A300- 600 or Boeing 767, to operate on regional routes.
To prepare for the increased cargo capacity,
security measures have been beefed
up considerably. The measures include
cooperation with Australia and the United
States in their national security plans.
The security plan includes information
about the shipper taken when a shipment
is accepted, a background and ID check, and X-ray screening. Recent additions have included the use of sniffer dogs and increasing the number of CCTVs in the cargo processing area at Suvarnabhumi airport. Other steps that THAI takes are sterilized shipments, using high security aircraft, and increased security training for its staff.
The airline, along with other Asean carriers, is looking forward to increased usage of online resources in 2011 for imports into Thailand...........