Impact Publications : AirCargo_245
AirCArgo AsiA-PACifiC • OCT-NOVEMBER 2016 • Page 15 services for most of its revenues? We still earn the bulk of our revenues on transatlantic routes. With JV partner Delta Air Lines, we now offer some 30 per cent of transatlantic cargo capacity. Existing routes serve Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New york, Orlando, san Francisco and Washing- ton. They will be joined by a new daily flight linking Heathrow and seattle from March 2017. Virgin Atlantic will also commence flights from Manches- ter to JFK, Boston and san Francisco next year. The airline’s on-line network also extends across the Caribbean and Mexico and we also have healthy cargo routes to Hong Kong and China, India, Dubai, Nigeria and south Africa. do you have big plans for an expand- ed london Heathrow (assuming the parliamentary vote goes through next year and we eventually see an additional runway)? We see new opportunities coming from the uK’s decision to build a third runway at Heathrow Airport. We think the move is a once in a generation op- portunity to radically transform airline competition at the uK’s hub airport, where the lack of available slots has limited the number of destinations we can serve. Are you actively involved in the airport’s expansion? We have promised to work with Heathrow, the uK’s Civil Aviation Au- thority and the Government to ensure the final scheme is affordable, cost-ef- ficient and ‘delivers for our customers.’ what’s the official view on the UK’s exit from the eU (Brexit)? The impact of Brexit is the big ques- tion for all uK-based companies. Our challenge now is to take advantage of the opportunities presented by Brexit. We have called on the uK Govern- ment to assume full control of aviation policy to enhance the international competitiveness of uK aviation for customers, businesses and the econ- omy. Vital to this will be protecting the current level of access with the usA, the uK’s largest single export market. The main impact is going to be around exchange rates and how this impacts demand for products. The fall in the value of sterling is having the effect you might expect, increasing demand for uK exports but causing headwinds for uK im- ports, notably from the us. The speed of movement in the currency markets also is a chal- lenge. Right now that may be being immunised by hedging, so we just have to keep an even closer eye on everything. Any new fleet changes? Virgin continues to make signifi- cant investments to achieve service and cost improvements. Having already commenced a fleet renewal program with greener and more effi- cient Boeing 787-9 aircraft – we now have 13 in service – we have placed a us$4.4 billion order for 12 A350- 1000 aircraft which will be delivered from early 2019. The A350 promises a great new passenger experience, will be 30 per cent more fuel and carbon effi- cient and reduce the airline’s noise footprint by more than 50 per cent. It also means that by 2021, Virgin Atlantic will boast one of the world’s youngest, greenest and quietest fleets. For Virgin Atlantic Cargo, the A350 is set to become the best cargo aircraft in the fleet, delivering a significant improvement in lower deck cargo capacity of between 10 per cent and 22 per cent depending on config- uration. Any plans for new products? We are not an airline that just keeps putting new products into the market because everyone else is doing so. We believe we are offering what our customers want; a simple, clear and appropriate range of products based on service and that are right for the market. Our new VP sales, steve Buck- erfield, has spent his first few months with us visiting customers around the world and their feedback is that they know and support our Fast Ride, Must Ride, Just Ride, Cool Chain and VEX express courier products and our ap- proach remains ‘absolutely valid’. What we are doing is making sure our sales teams get to spend as much time as possible in front of our cus- tomers because that’s the best way to stay in touch with what they need. One initiative supporting this is our invest- ment in a new salesforce IT system to increase the effectiveness of the sales team. It also is expected to be a ‘game changer’ in 2017 in terms of the customer visibility it provides. For us, staying close to our custom- ers is the most important thing of all.