From Russia with Pallets – AirBridgeCargo Becomes ATL Launch Customer

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Mike Simpson - WFS
Mike Simpson, E.V.P. Americas, Worldwide Flight Services

By Alexis Dames

The world’s busiest international airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta (ATL), and one of the world’s leading ground-handling organizations, Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) inaugurated a state-of-the-art cargo terminal that promises to establish the airport as a global air cargo hub.

ATL’s “Building C” was designed with safety and sustainability.

The new 100,000 sq ft cargo facility known as Building C was built with high security standards in mind. It seeks to improve upon the already impressive 675,000 tonnes of cargo that ATL handles annually. The 20-year lease agreement signed by WFS marks the first time in more than three decades that a new cargo terminal has opened at the airport.

Initial Agreement

The launch customer for the impressive new facility is Russian carrier AirBridgeCargo (ABC). A part of the Russian airline holding company Volga-Dnepr Group, ABC operates an all-Boeing freighter fleet that includes 13 747-8Fs, four 747-400ERFs and one 737-800BCF converted freighter. As part of the three-year agreement, WFS will handle up to 9,500 tonnes of cargo annually for the airline at The Peach State’s main airport.

A mainstay of AirBridgeCargo’s fleet consists of 13 Boeing 747-8Fs. Source AirBridgeCargo

Mike Simpson, EVP Americas at WFS, stated the following, “AirBridgeCargo is an important and growing customer of WFS globally. Through multiple contracts in the U.S. and Europe, we are consistently proving our ability to deliver the service excellence ABC demands for its customers, as well as our expertise in supporting the airline’s portfolio of special cargos services, including pharmaceuticals and oversized shipments. The airline and its customers are the first to benefit from WFS’s investment in a new cargo terminal and handling systems in Atlanta, and we are delighted to welcome them as our launch client.”

With the advantage of its modern long-range fleet of jumbo aircraft, ABC is able to operate from its hub in Moscow to a network of 30 stations worldwide, including ATL. For flights departing its Moscow hubs, the airline is able to deliver cargo to a wide selection of cities within 48 hours  including cargo-handling time.

Additionally, the all-Boeing fleet provides main deck cargo capabilities, nose-doors for special and oversized cargo loading, temperature control of individual cargo compartments and unmatched efficiency.

AirBridgeCargo and Special Cargo

To provide customers improved reliability for time and temperature critical pharmaceutical shipments, during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, ABC and its partners worked to establish an extended network of international pharma stations. One pharma station, located at ATL, is a 24/7 QEP-certified facility with a capacity to hold groups of four ULDs at three different temperature ranges. Additionally, WFS recently revealed that the new facility provides 11 dock doors, charging points for temperature-controlled containers and services for temperature-sensitive cargo.

Caroline Pappas, Director of Sales North America, remarked, “2020 elevated air cargo to the forefront. Showing its ability for resilience and agility, AirBridgeCargo, together with reliable and trustworthy partners, such as WFS, contributed high-quality services to its customers, both in the USA and beyond, especially for special cargos, such as healthcare, high-tech and e-com. AirBridgeCargo and WFS will be able to offer dedicated logistics solutions on a quality level to customers and markets. Through the capabilities of the new ATL terminal, ABC will continue to support its existing customer base from various industries, as well as attract new ones.”

Growing Along with Metro Atlanta

The new 50,000 ton WFS facility is part of a long-range project in the metro Atlanta area designed to enable faster movement of freight and allow for much needed expansion. The Atlanta Regional Commission, which has recommended several projects in its freight plan, estimates that metro Atlanta’s freight tonnage (air, train and truck) will grow 76% by 2040.

Another indication that air cargo growth will continue at ATL is a recent proposal issued by the airport seeking to develop a modern air cargo terminal facility. In the RFP, the airport goes on to state that it prioritizes cargo development, and that their ultimate aim, is to promote trade and cargo growth.

Mike Simpson, added, “We were extremely proud to be awarded the opportunity to operate Cargo Building C and to now be opening the first new cargo terminal at H-JAIA in more than 30 years. Atlanta is a major cargo hub in North America, and, through this long-term commitment and investment, WFS is demonstrating its ability to offer airlines using this great airport the highest international standards of safety, security and service.

“We look forward to a long and successful partnership with the airport authority and  Atlanta’s air cargo community.”