Fruit, pharmaceuticals, priceless art. That’s just some of the cargo that will soon be moving between Southern California and Qatar on Saturday when Qatar Airways starts air freight service between Los Angeles International Airport and the airport in the Qatari capital of Doha.
Starting April 4, the airline will deliver and pick up cargo between the two locations twice a week. LAX is one of 11 new destinations for the airline’s cargo service.
“Our customers are growing and they need a stable partner to make this growth happen,” said Ulrich Ogiermann, Qatar Airways’ chief cargo officer.
Flights will leave Doha on Wednesdays and Saturdays and arrive at LAX after stops in Luxembourg and Mexico. They will depart from LAX for the Middle Eastern country the same day.
Ogiermann said cargo flights will bring fruit, vegetables, flowers and seafood from Los Angeles to the Middle East, while machinery, pharmaceuticals, apparel and textiles will move in the opposite direction. The airline has equipped jets for LAX flights with new temperature-controlled containers to keep fresh produce, flowers and pharmaceuticals at constant temperatures.
He also expects the flights to carry lots of art: Oil-rich Qatar has more wealth per capita than any other nation, and the airline regularly transports art collections among Qatari museums and the world. Ogiermann said the airline expects to move art collections between private donors, collectors and museums on the LAX flights, too.
While Qatar Airways flies passengers as well as cargo into a handful of U.S. cities, including New York, Chicago and Dallas, the new LAX service is for cargo only.
Air freight through LAX rose 12.4 percent in January over a year ago, but it was likely driven by importers bringing in goods by air to avoid the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which were tied up over the past few months by contentious labor negotiations. In 2014, more than 2 million tons of air cargo moved through LAX, up 3.8 percent from the prior year. It was the first time since the recession that the airport topped the 2 million-ton mark.
Greek marine fuel reseller Aegean Marine Petroleum Network Inc. saw an opportunity to expand into the U.S. shipping market when three U.S. subsidiaries of bankrupt Danish marine fuel provider OW Bunker filed for bankruptcy themselves in November.
The following month, Aegean bought the leftover fuel that OW Bunker had stored at an L.A. port terminal, and now the company is selling marine fuel to ships docking at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
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