By LAURA LOREK
Founder of Silicon Hills News
“A market like this is great because it’s so diversified,” said David Shepherd, head of commercial business for IAG Cargo.
IAG Cargo wants to make sure Austin companies can deliver products worldwide as fast as possible, Shepherd said. They are particularly targeting the growing high-tech industry in the region.
Shepherd spoke at a press conference Friday morning at the Austin Chamber of Commerce offices in downtown Austin. Four British journalists flew to Austin to learn more about the company’s operations here. They were going to go on a tour of the city and visit Freescale Semiconductor and then have a special dinner at Salt Lick.
IAG Cargo formed in 2011, after the merger of British Airways with Iberia. The company has $1.5 billion in revenue annually and is the seventh largest cargo company in the world. It has more than 2,700 employees worldwide.
“We’re not the biggest but we believe we’re the best,” Shepherd said.
In March, IAG Cargo began offering services out of Austin when British Airlines launched its direct flights between Austin and London. The company has 380 aircraft and connects to 350 destinations worldwide through its hubs at Heathrow and Madrid.
It’s not just geeks flying from Tech City London to Austin’s bustling startup scene. It’s a lot of cargo too.
IAG Cargo transports general cargo, live animals; secure products, gold, airmail, dangerous goods, human remains and courier services.
IAG Cargo has 20 gateways in the U.S. and operates more than 45 flights per day. It already operates out of Dallas and Houston and Austin was the next logical expansion, said Joseph LeBeau, IAG Cargo’s vice president of commercial, the Americas.
“It’s been in the works for about two years,” he said.
“Texas has been very kind to IAG Cargo,” he said. “Between Dallas and Houston, for as long as I can remember, we have been 100 percent full every day.’’
The cargo flights on the Austin to London route were 88 percent full after just three weeks and now operate at 90 percent to 95 percent capacity, LeBeau said.
“It’s not all Austin. It’s being fed into by San Antonio and Laredo,” he said. “This route eases the capacity crunch at Houston and Dallas.’’
Austin is shipping high tech products from the “Silicon Hills” as well as aviation and oilfield spare parts and equipment and pharmaceuticals.
IAG Cargo has a fully functional warehouse at the Austin airport and is expected to get its constant climate accreditation shortly for its refrigerated cargo. Its transatlantic service began daily service as of May 1st and is serviced by a Boeing 787 Dreamliner that can transport up to 44,000 pounds of cargo per night.