Levu Air Cargo welcomes LatAm’s first A321F

Levu Air Cargo welcomes LatAm’s first A321F Things are coming together for Brazil’s Levu Air Cargo: just a week after DHL Supply Chain announced its partnership with the airline, including a EUR 90.5 million investment and four Airbus freighters to come by the end of next year, Levu Air Cargo took delivery of its first A321F from SmartLynx. Everything is running according to plan, as the first freighter should go into operation this month.

With the arrival of its A321F in Recife, Brazil, last week, Levu Air Cargo has become the first airline in Latin America to operate an A321-200PCF, despite the region being home to a great many passenger A321, already. The new freighter conversion version is considered the finest aircraft in its category by Levu, and should fulfil the company’s target of ensuring high service standards in the Brazilian market. The plane will bear the registration PS-LVU, once the registration process with Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Agency is completed. It is dry-leased from ACMI, cargo and charter provider, SmartLynx Airlines, and formerly flew for DHL Aviation in partnership with the provider, then operating under the registration 9H-CGD (MSN 775).

The first of four freighters to join Levu Air Cargo’s fleet. Image: DHL

A significant milestone for aviation in Brazil
SmartLynx Airlines’ CEO, Edvinas Demenius, stated: “Our partnership with Levu marks a significant milestone, not only for the Brazilian aviation market with the introduction of the first A321F registered in the country and region, but also for SmartLynx as we extend our cargo capacity management services to Latin America. This important step is a part of our strategic efforts to expand our geography and we see much potential in this region.”

The only aircraft in its category…
Rodrigo Pacheco, CEO of Levu Air Cargo, added: “We specifically sought out SmartLynx due to their extensive knowledge of the aircraft as they are the biggest operator for A321F in the world today. Their partnership with DHL in Europe makes the learning curve much more efficient for us as we will operate for the DHL Supply Chain here in Brazil. This strategic decision helps us deliver top-notch performance and ensures the best results for our valued customers.

Levu also specifically chose the A321F because of its modern design, lower fuel consumption, and reduced CO2 emissions. “It is the only aircraft in its category capable of handling containerized cargo on both the lower and main deck, significantly improving turnover efficiency,” the release underlines.

DHL Supply Chain Partnership
The partnership between Levu and DHL Supply Chain was announced on 14MAY24, whereby DHL does not hold an equity stake in the Brazilian newcomer. Instead, Levu will support DHL by providing an express, domestic air network as reaction to a rapidly growing e-commerce and air cargo market. A total of four freighters are planned, starting with the newly delivered A321F, operating from this month on. A second A321-200PCF is to follow soon, both offering a capacity of 27 tons, each. The other two freighters are also Airbus aircraft: two A330-300P2F, each with a capacity of 59 tons. 2024 will see cargo volumes of up to 4 thousand tons per month, growing to 10 thousand tons by the end of 2025. On board will be pharmaceuticals, electronics, automotive, dangerous goods, and perishable commodities, as the aircraft connect Campinas, Recife, Belém, and Manaus. DHL Express and DHL Global Forwarding will also have access to the air cargo space, connecting with their international networks as well as road feeder services and last-mile delivery through DHL Supply Chain and POLAR units.

Big money, lots of jobs
Global leader in warehousing and distribution, DHL Supply Chain is investing EUR 90.5 million in its domestic air transport partnership project with Levu Air Cargo. The first flights take off at the end of MAY24, will operate on a daily route between Campinas and Manaus, and three times per week between Campinas and Recife. The investment is going towards gearing up the infrastructure in the served cities and has already led to the creation of 200 direct jobs and circa 500 indirect jobs. Levu will be responsible for flight operations and air procedures. The available air capacity will be shared between the two partners as well as other DHL business units in Brazil.

Solon Barrios, Vice President of Transport at DHL Supply Chain, explained: “This project brings together three fundamental aspects of a solid and efficient logistics operation: partner specialization, excellent operational capacity, and guaranteed service level. In addition, we will also offer good frequency and the possibility of connections to other cities and countries. With this, we want more and more companies to access the already known benefits of the air transport, especially taking into account the continental dimensions of Brazil.

End-to-end logistics – also for life sciences
Levu Air Cargo’s CEO, Rodrigo Pacheco, emphasized the benefits safe and efficient airlift and end-to-end transport will bring to healthcare and pharma shipments: “We will also have the solution for temperature-controlled ULDs (overhead containers designed to make loading and unloading easy and fast). We will be the first national cargo airline to have this solution for transporting life science cargo, without the risk of changing the temperature of the cargo. With this we will bring efficiency to an SLA level in order to achieve the highest standards of service excellence to offer our customers.”

The freedom of freighters
Belly freight is all well and good, maintains Solon Barrios, but nothing beats a freighter in his view: “Boarding cargo on passenger flights is very important due to the greater dispersion, but using freighters brings many advantages. First, the guarantee that there will be room for the cargo and the reliability of the delivery schedule. Second, the versatility of cargo that can be boarded. And, of course, with greater consolidation, we have a larger scale, even more competitive conditions and the best lead time and service level on the market.”

So, soon with four freighters in the works, Brazil’s aviation market is set to be blessed with a stable express network in the near future.

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