Cargoitalia spreads its wings

Many start-ups focus on one or two routes to begin with. Not Cargoitalia, which has launched freighter services to 14 destinations already, with more planned. Peter Conway reports.

Starting a cargo airline is a risky business. Many carriers launch into the market with bold plans and a second hand freighter, only to quietly disappeara few months later.

For Cargoitalia to be coming to the end of its first year and to have some 14 destinations worldwide up and running is therefore already a notable achievement. And if, as its CEO and managing director Massimo Panagia claims, it also manages to break even by the end of the period, he will with justice be ableto claim that it is “quite astonishing”.

Formerly head of cargo for Alitalia, Panagia used to be described by forwarders as “the right person in the wrong airline”. Now he is able to shape Cargoitalia the way he wants it. Certainly since the airline started services in June 2006, he has seemed to have aclear idea of where he wants it to go.

Rather than setting up one or two routes and then seeing how they bed down, for example, Cargoitalia has moved rapidly to set up a broad network. Eastbound it already has two flights a week to Shanghai, three to Chennai and Mumbai, two to Dhaka, and two to Dubai, while across the Atlantic it flies four times a week New York JFK, two each to Chicago, Houstonand Mexico City.