MEMPHIS: April 06, 2016. FedEx wants to operate a B757 freighter to provide expedited and general airfreight services from Monday to Friday between Miami and Havana, Cuba with a return flight via Mérida, Mexico commencing September 01, 2016.
In a filing with the U.S. Department of Transportation, the company says it is making a “very modest request” in seeking to operate five out of the 140 weekly flights that are available to U.S. airlines.
If approved, FedEx says it will set up a trucking network linking three additional Cuban cities: Mariel (with its port and developing trade zone), Santiago de Cuba, and Varadero, a major tourist destination. As a result the company would link nearly 1,000 U.S./Cuba city pairs with a single flight.
According to David Cunningham, FedEx Corporation executive vice president and COO, the B757 operation from its Miami hub is primarily designed for U.S. and Cuban shippers while its backhaul routing via Mexico allows the company to replace existing Convair 500 capacity and make the overall operation economically viable.
Noting that combination airlines would be offering belly freight services limited by “significant passenger baggage volumes that typify many Cuba visitors’ luggage haul”, FedEx said a single B757 freighter would be the right thing to do for U.S. trade with the emerging economy.
“Cargo services, especially those which facilitate trade in high value goods, are not luxuries or frills in a scheduled air transportation market, but a necessity, offering greater economic value over carrying belly cargo on combination aircraft. FedEx’s services are also important to small businesses seeking to participate in the global market,” it argued.
With the expansion of the U.S. Export Administration Regulations to allow the export of high-value goods including computers, Cuba is a potential market for U.S. businesses that use airfreight according to the company.
In addition, FedEx says the U.S. Postal Service will need air cargo support for a renewed link with Cuba, as will the U.S. State Department and the Department of Defense with its existing naval facilities at Guantanamo Bay.
“Offering the best services, connecting to the largest network, providing tools for regulatory compliance and possessing the financial security to maintain the service, a grant to FedEx in this proceeding is the best step that the Department can take to advance U.S.-Cuba trade,” the company concluded.