American Airlines Cargo says a new ground handling solution developed by Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) at Heathrow Airport has enabled the airline to increase its freight volumes and revenues to and from the London gateway and produced significant improvements in service levels for its freight forwarding customers.

WFS invested ‘1 million in its Building 552 at Heathrow to improve its cargo handling capability and create a purpose-built working environment for American Airlines Cargo’s EMEA Region cargo sales and operations management as well as its UK sales, customer services and export operations teams.

Heathrow is one of the airline’s busiest international airports, handling over 100 million kilos of export and import cargo each year plus a further five million kilos of export mail. American Airlines operates 17 Boeing 777-200 flights a day from the London airport to Boston, Chicago, New York, Miami and Los Angeles. At Heathrow, WFS is also responsible for building and trucking freight for the airline’s twice daily flights from Gatwick to Dallas Fort Worth and daily service to Raleigh/Durham.

Moving to the new WFS location last August has enabled the airline to not only maintain, but increase its growth rates to and from Heathrow, following record years in 2004 and 2005.

Roger Samways, Regional Cargo Sales Manager, Northern Europe of American Airlines Cargo, said, ‘After two record years, we had almost outgrown our off-airport cargo facility, also managed by WFS, and it was clear that we needed to increase our handling capacity if the positive trend in our results was going to continue. The new facility provided by WFS has given American Airlines the luxury of being able to offer dedicated export and import facilities to our customers, each with specific operational processes designed to better meet our customers’ needs.

‘The increased capacity provided by both facilities is allowing us to grow our business both out of and into London Heathrow and, importantly, the added resource provided by WFS has enabled us to further enhance our service standards. This is illustrated by our current truck waiting times, which average nine minutes at our import facility and 20 minutes at our export facility. Further evidence of the positive impact upon service levels is demonstrated by analysis of our flown-as-booked performance ’ 94.7% for our ConfirmedFS product and 99.3% for our premium ExpediteFS product.’

Patrick Roberts, Vice President, UK & I for WFS, added, ‘As the world’s largest cargo handling organisation, WFS is able to work with major customers like American Airlines Cargo to develop business solutions that not only enable them to grow their business but also improve their service levels at the same time. The results we are helping the airline achieve are a tribute to the WFS staff working in both the export and import facilities. We have set an extremely high standard that we aim to maintain and improve upon.’

The positive performance of the new Heathrow export facility is also providing benefits for American Airline Cargo’s customers outside of the UK, with interline partners and GSAs in the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent and Northern Europe using Heathrow as a gateway to and from the US.

‘The WFS on-airport location has greatly simplified the transfer process of freight from Interline partners to our own flights and this, coupled with an ongoing process review, has resulted in specific service level improvements relating to our Interline business.

‘Additionally, the on-airport location has enabled us to offer a more consistent level of service to our customers in the Netherlands, particularly those moving produce and flowers, as the transfer time from the facility to our aircraft is greatly reduced. This has helped the recovery process when trucks from the continent are delayed and means we are still able to make our early morning departures to New York, Chicago an