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Sun 1 Apr 2007 12:00 AM

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Thai talk

As the Middle East plays an increasingly important role in airfreight activities, Thai Cargo is planning an ambitious expansion throughout the region, with plans for new routes between Bangkok and Dubai, explains Thanoo Saowaros, marketing development manager, Thai Cargo.

When did Thai Cargo start operations?

Thai Cargo started its airfreight operations at the same time as the passenger transportation service in 1960. Since then, we have continuously increased our capacity and experienced growth. In 2006, the cargo and mail transportation services, including warehouse handling at Bangkok International Airport, was around 16% of the total revenue for the company. There were 50 customer airlines and the movement of the cargo at our terminal was approximately 710,000 tonnes. We moved to the new cargo terminal in the Customs Free Zone at Suvarnabhumi Airport in September 2006. As a result, the total area for cargo and mail service increased to 90,000m
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Where are your biggest markets for cargo services at the moment?

As the home base of Thai Cargo is located in Bangkok, our biggest markets are the Far East, South West Pacific and South Asian subcontinent.

What cargo services does the company currently provide on a global basis?

Thai Cargo currently serves 76 cities in five continents throughout the world. In particular, Thailand is a natural aviation hub, acting as the gateway to South Asia, South East Asia and Asia Pacific. Our coverage of the region and flight frequency is unmatched and Thai Cargo continues to invest in the finest facilities, technology and equipment, especially in the new Bangkok International Airport, Suvarnabhumi.

What cargo services does Thai Cargo currently offer in the Middle East?

At the moment, we are offering 11 flights per week between Bangkok and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, in addition to daily flights between Bangkok and Muscat in Oman. The cargo services on these flights are operated on the belly hold under the passenger aircraft.

How will these services be expanded as part of your growth strategy?

In addition to the previously mentioned flights, we will commence freighter flights between Bangkok and Dubai to handle the increasing customer demand for cargo space between both cities. In total, we will have three flights a week to service this route, on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

It will be operated using the Boeing 747-200F aircraft. The capacity for each flight is 100 tonnes, which means the total capacity for cargo services between these two cities now reaches 600 tonnes per week. The final destination for this freighter service is Paris in France.

What factors led to Thai Cargo's decision to expand services in the Middle East?

The decision resulted from a long-term study into demand for cargo space between the Far East, Middle East and Europe. Our customers are transporting higher volumes between these regions and it's important for Thai Cargo to continue servicing their needs as efficiently as possible.

What other airlines are providing you with competition in the Middle East?

We are sure that many people in the air cargo industry will agree that the airlines in the Middle East are making a huge international impact, with outstanding performance and growth. Instead of focusing on these airlines as competition, Thai Cargo would like to think of them as potential partners in the future.

What are your views on the air cargo market within the Middle East, especially in terms of future growth?

The location of the Middle East is ideal for air cargo activities, as well as multimodal transportation. In particular, the region is making impressive investments to further strengthen its infrastructure, with projects such as Dubai World Central Airport, where Thai Cargo plans to have a presence. The region can definitely prosper as a transportation hub, connecting the Far East to Europe and various Middle Eastern countries. I believe this benefit will be utilised in the future and there will be plenty of opportunity for market growth.

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