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The Strategy of Air Cargo Operators: About Carpet Sellers and Cargo Stars

Wouter Dewulf, Hilde Meersman and Eddy Van de Voorde

A chapter in Airline Economics in Europe, 2019, vol. 8, pp 167-199 from Emerald Publishing Ltd

Abstract: Abstract Air cargo was traditionally considered as a by-product of passenger air transport. However, in the last decade a defined strategy for air cargo has gained a key position in the strategies of most combination airlines, contributing largely to the cash and profit levels of these airlines. The global air cargo industry is nowadays a mature industry with over 60 billion USD in direct revenues. The strategic context is, therefore, far beyond the basic entrepreneurial framework in which an emerging and young industry tends to operate. This chapter aims to gain an enhanced insight into the strategies of airlines that transport cargo, either in the bellies of passenger aircraft or in full-freighter aircraft. A Cluster Analysis generates a typology of seven representative clusters of air cargo operators’ strategy models. The typology proposes a spectrum of strategies for air cargo, ranging from the cluster group “Carpet Sellers” up to the “Cargo Stars” cluster. While the former tend to be the small airlines or all-cargo carriers which barely manage to cover their costs with their revenues, the latter are profitable, very large globally operating airlines that focus on both passengers and cargo with passenger and freighter aircraft. Within this spectrum there are five other main strategy groups: the “Basic Cargo Operators,” the “Strong Regionals,” the “Low Cost Low Yielder,” the “Large Passenger Wide-body Operators,” and the “Premium Cargo Operators.” Our findings suggest the existence of superior strategy models that could be defined as “winning strategies” that differ according to airline size.

Keywords: Air cargo; airline strategy; typology; cluster analysis; key success factors; winning strategies (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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