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Cargolux adding third weekly European cargo flight

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Roche Diagnostics Corp. is ramping up cargo shipments between the U.S. and Europe, securing a third weekly Cargolux flight at Indianapolis International Airport to ship its medical products overseas.

The flight, to begin on Sunday, will be the first scheduled Cargolux flight to depart Indianapolis and fly nonstop to Europe – opening up new export capabilities from central Indiana.

Currently, Cargolux Airlines International operates two inbound flights from Luxembourg to Indianapolis, each Wednesday and Friday

Boeing 747 freighters – an uncommon sight at Indianapolis  – typically take on Roche’s chemical reagents and medical devices then stop in Chicago or other cities before heading back to Europe.

The new flight will help Roche better synchronize its supply chain, said Thurman Walker, general manager of DB Schenker’s Indianapolis logistics center, which handles Roche’s shipments at the airport.

The goods will be loaded at the airport when Roche’s local operations are closed. But they will arrive in Europe for timelier processing. That could speed deliveries to customers there by two days, said Jim Lafayette, director of distribution operations for Roche.

The outbound Boeing 747 will have room for additional cargo. “Hopefully our volume will keep growing,” said Eric Martin, head of North American supply chain at Roche.

That extra aircraft capacity also could accommodate goods of other companies wanting to ship to Europe.

The third Cargolux flight is a boon for the Indianapolis Airport Authority, which for years has been touting the airport as an alternative to bigger and more congested airports such as delay-prone Chicago O’Hare.

Indianapolis International is the nation’s eighth largest cargo airport, although most of the cargo moves via a single company – FedEx.  The Memphis carrier operates its second-largest domestic cargo hubin Indianapolis.

Further diversification--Cargolux’s new flight-- helps underscore that “Indianapolis is a legitimate player” in cargo, said Christofer Matney, air service director for the airport authority.

Matney travels the world pitching Indianapolis’ cargo potential, which has grown since the airport opened a new midfield passenger terminal almost four years ago. The site of the abandoned former passenger terminal is ripe for cargo operations, with direct access to the airfield.

There’s more than 2 million square feet of such airfield access on the northeast corner of the airport alone for wide-body freight aircraft. That’s an amount roughly equivalent to what O’Hare has today.

Indianapolis has seen a number of new international cargo flights over the last couple years. In November, FedEx won federal approval to launch an air cargo route between Indianapolis and Guadalajara, Mexico.

FedEx, which employs about 4,000 people at its Indianapolis hub, also has been making regularly scheduled flights from Indianapolis to Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport.

Two years ago, FedEx began nonstop service from Hong Kong to Indianapolis.

Cargo is big business for Indianapolis International, a medium-sized airport that is more a spoke than a hub for passenger service and thus has struggled to land nonstop passenger flights to Europe.

FedEx alone pays more in landing fees than all 10 passenger carriers here – about $10.4 million annually vs. $10 million for the passenger airlines.

In the first nine months of 2011, FedEx shipped 1.45 billion pounds of cargo at Indianapolis International, or 724,619 tons.

Cargolux began the first nonstop air cargo service here from Europe in 2006, quickly adding a second flight to serve Roche and Schenker.

“Six years ago, these guys took a very bold step,” said Matney, who hopes to continue to attract additional cargo flights.

 

 

   

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  • A step in the right direction for Indianapolis Int.
    Great writeup Chris, hopefully this will keep jobs in the area and encourage more companies to follow suite. Indianapolis International has been struggling to raise its profile for many years as a viable jump point for cargo - like you say, O'Hare doesn't exactly have the best record on file, but businesses are at least confident that it has the necessary infrastructure in place, regardless of delays. Hopefully, the Roche deal will go one step further to encouraging firms to use Indianapolis as an alternative for air cargo aircraft and other cargo-related business. I think it's important that Indianapolis now puts in place a strong multi-channel campaign to reassure businesses that it can handle their projects with capacity to spare, and possibly offer rebates for multi-year customers. The more it can continue to work with cargo successfully, the more the market will slowly come to recognise it as a genuine alternative to Chicago O'Hare.
  • FedEx HKG-IND
    FedEx flew Hong Kong - Indianapolis for two months and has not flown that route for over a year.
  • Indianapolis Cargo Hub
    The combination of the Euro financial crisis making U.S. products cheaper and DHL closing its cargo hub in Ohio has really made Indianapolis a lot more attractive for European exporting.

    The former airport terminal is ripe for redevelopment as a intermodal cargo hub.

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