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New Option for Shippers as Southwest Airlines Adds First International Cargo Destinations

Importers, exporters and freight managers will now have a new airline to transport their cargo.

Southwest Airlines Co. said last week that it intends to begin shipping cargo to select international destinations beginning in May.

The first international destinations Southwest Airlines Cargo expects to serve are Mexico City, along with Cancun, Cabo San Lucas/Los Cabos, and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, with more international destinations planned for 2018, subject to requisite government approvals.

“By offering the cross-border services that our customers are looking for, we’re able to help meet the needs of businesses throughout the United States and, soon, in Mexico,” said Matt Buckley, Southwest Airlines’ vice president of cargo and charters. “As we enter the international cargo market for the first time, customers will have more opportunities to experience the friendly and reliable service for which our cargo team is known.”

The new international shipping options are made possible in part due to the rollout of Southwest Cargo’s new point-of-sale and back office accounting system known as the Southwest Cargo Suite (SCS). SCS is expected to take the place of the current system next month, and along with international capabilities, give customers the ability to make advanced cargo bookings and utilize electronic air waybills.

Southwest joins major air freight carriers such as DHL, FedEx and UPS in serving a growing demand for air cargo in many industries, including shipping apparel for on demand deliveries and the surging e-commerce phenomena in B2B and B2C sectors.

According to the International Air Transport Association, global air freight demand grew 9 percent in 2017, more than double the 3.6% annual growth recorded in 2016. Freight capacity rose 3 percent in 2017, the slowest annual capacity growth seen since 2012. Demand growth outpaced capacity growth by a factor of three, showing the need for increased capacity.

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Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO, said, “The outlook for air freight in 2018 is optimistic. Consumer confidence is buoyant, and we see growing strength in international e-commerce and the transport of time- and temperature-sensitive goods…Challenges remain, including the need for industry-wide evolution to more efficient processes. That will help improve customer satisfaction and capture market share as the expectations of shippers and consumers grow ever more demanding.”

Southwest Airlines’ extensive domestic cargo network has more than 3,900 flights a day. Southwest Airlines was named Domestic Carrier of the Year by the Airforwarders Association for the eight consecutive year in 2017 and was recognized by Express Delivery and Logistics Association with the 2016 Express Cargo Standard of Excellence award.