Air Cargo

Southwest Airlines Air Cargo Update

Steve Langhart, Director of Cargo Sales for Southwest Airlines, was the guest speaker at the June meeting of the JFK Air Cargo Association. Mr. Langhart gave a recap of Southwest’s growth, its development in the NY/NJ market, and provided some insights into current and future strategic initiatives.

Recalling that Southwest started operations in 1971 with only three airplanes and three origins/destinations, the Dallas-based airline has experienced phenomenal growth to over 750 aircraft and 61,000 employees in 2019, with 100 + cities served with approximately 4,000 flights per day. During this time, Mr. Langhart emphasized that Southwest has maintained its commitment to both customer and employee satisfaction, such that it was recently rated number 1 in customer service, and is also rated number 2 in employee perception by Forbes.

Regarding cargo operations, Southwest has 80 cargo locations network-wide, with 55 being operated directly by Southwest and the remaining 25 operated by third-party vendors. The airline has operated in the NY/NJ market for 12 years with services at Newark, LaGuardia, and Islip airports, and is starting a road feeder cargo connection between LaGuardia Airport and JFK that feeds Southwest’s 20 + flights per day from LaGuardia. In addition to Southwest’s cargo services in the Mainland US and Puerto Rico, it also now directly serves 6 international destinations in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. These international destinations are primarily handling perishable products Northbound, and durable goods Southbound. Southwest has interline agreements serving Canada, and also initiated an interline agreement in March with Hawaiian Airlines to Hawaii. Other interline initiatives that Southwest is working on will hopefully result in services to Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

Steve Langhart, Director of Cargo Sales for Southwest Airlines
Steve Langhart, Director of Cargo Sales for Southwest Airlines

According to Mr. Langhart, Southwest’s commitment to efficient air cargo operations includes a 30-45 minute average tail-to-tail transfer turnaround time, depending on the specific product. Growth air freight product opportunities include Life Sciences, Pharma, Flowers, Herbs & Vegetables, and Fresh Seafood.

Along with these opportunities Mr. Langhart also mentioned regulatory challenges, most obviously, the China trade tariffs, but also privacy laws, citing in particular the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the US.

Brendan Dugan

Contact Author

© Copyright 1999–2024 American Journal of Transportation. All Rights Reserved