A new sight: On November 20th, a Swiss WorldCargo aircraft flight took off from Santiago de Chile. Onboard: over 42 tons of cherries.
The flight was unique for two reasons. On the one hand, Santiago de Chile is outside of the typical SWISS intercontinental network. As of November, however, it is part of our new cargo-only network, operated as a special charter series connecting the Chilean capital with Switzerland and the world. The last time SWISS flew to Santiago de Chile was in 2008, and returning to one of South America’s largest cities brought back fond memories for those who recall the former operation. In addition, the new flight was also special because of the cargo onboard: Cherries. The cherry season in South America occurs from November to mid-December. The cherries grown in Chile are of an exceptional quality, and therefore a popular export this time of year, with demand for the prized fruit extending to Europe as well as many parts of Asia.
Our Chilean customers were very eager to support the new service, so that SWISS was quickly able to generate the required support to launch these flights and provide access for our customers to Zurich and the rest of our global network. Given our mid-day arrival times in Zurich, most shipments have access to same-day connections to a broad set of destinations in both Europe and Asia, including Dubai, Delhi, Hong Kong and Shanghai among others. With a maximum cargo payload approaching 50 tons, Swiss is able to ensure that each flight can transport plenty of cherries to hungry consumers on the other side of the world.
Setting up the flight
In total, there are nine flights planned during the next several weeks. Each flight is typically operated in three parts: Zurich – Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo – Santiago, and Santiago – Zurich. The first leg carries both passengers and cargo from Zurich to Sao Paulo. The last two legs, from Sao Paulo to Santiago, and from there to Zurich, are cargo-only sectors. Flights are operated with our flagship Boeing 777-300ER, enabling us to carry passengers in our typical three-class configuration, while offering cargo customers a substantial payload in the aircraft’s belly.
“We are extremely excited to be able to offer this new seasonal service to our customers in Chile,” said Hendrik Falk, Head of Cargo USA West, South and South America. “With these new 777 “belly-freighters”, we are able to connect Chilean cherry exporters with consumers in many parts of Asia and Europe.”
Precise planning and close collaboration with all stakeholders were instrumental in ensuring a smooth and seamless execution for the first flight. Our operations team in ZRH, together with procurement, established the necessary ground handling set-up with provider UASL. At the same time, our GSA in Chile, Heavyweight Air Express, secured the required support from the market and coordinated the many shifting capacity requirements. Our team in Brazil ensured a smooth transit stop in GRU, and also supported the sales and operational efforts in Santiago. Finally, close collaboration among various departments at SWISS in Zurich – including revenue management, network planning, and flight operations – meant that we were able to effectively combine passenger and cargo requirements to create a tailor-made operation for this complex seasonal opportunity.
As these flights continue over the coming weeks, we look forward to maintaining this steady connection throughout the cherry season, in order to effectively meet the demands of our global customers.
Swiss WorldCargo Marketing & Communications