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AirNet gains in Air Cargo market

Niche operators can compete effectively for time-critical freight
By Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
January 31, 2012

When evaluating the relative merits of air cargo providers, logistics managers generally examine freighters, passenger planes or integrated courier companies. But there is a niche player in this mix that only the most discriminating may consider: expedited charters like AirNet Systems, Inc.

Are they expensive? Yes, they can be, but the value proposition of leveraging speed-to-market, risk mitigation, and customer service can be persuasive.

“We know we can’t be right for everyone,” said senior vice president, Frank DiMaria. “The shipper who needs time-critical transportation of small packages, or highly specialized cargo is going be coming to us when other solutions don’t fit. And once they’ve tried us, they generally come back.”

The image of exclusivity and class can be an obstacle, admitted DiMaria, who emphasized that this is not just a service “for the rich and famous.”

“When many shippers hear the word ‘charter,’ they immediately think ‘luxury,’” he said. “And that’s really not the case. Often times, we can work with customers to save both time and money. It’s all about how the deal is structured.”

For example, AirNet partners with the major commercial airlines to provide flexibility and a wide array of scheduling options. This can make economic sense if the shipper is not held hostage to one courier company’s itinerary. DiMaria also noted that AirNet’s contracting always includes the fuel surcharge, whereas other competitors may add this after the booking.

“It can be distorted,” he said. “Again, we may look like we are charging a lot more, but in the end, it comes out as a break-even…or better.”

The company’s own asset-based fleet is impressive: it owns and operates more than 185 aircraft strategically positioned throughout the nation and regularly conducts more than 400 flights nightly to cities nationwide. Its network also includes more than 1,000 surface transportation partners, providing premium point-to-point, regional delivery service anywhere in the U.S.

“When air service is not the best option, we provide surface transportation to get shipments delivered safely, securely, and on time,” said DiMaria.

Not surprisingly, one of AirNet’s fastest growing markets is in biomed where rapid and protective coordination of the supply chain is critical.

“Transportation of life-saving organs and tissue, blood, patient care products, and medical devices for transplant, surgical, and diagnostic needs is a big part of our business,” said DiMaria.

About the Author

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Patrick Burnson
Executive Editor

Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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