After launching its weekly Private Air Service (PAS) from Hong Kong International (HKG) to Chicago O’Hare (ORD) in early January, San Francisco-based digital forwarder Flexport is getting ready to resume its service after the Chinese Lunar New Year lull. The expected return to service will be Feb. 23, according to Neel Jones Shah, Flexport’s senior vice president and global head of airfreight.
The HKG-ORD route, using dedicated 747-400 freighter service provided by Western Global Airlines, occurs every Saturday and is an expansion of Flexport’s current PAS service between HKG and Los Angeles (LAX).
Jones Shah told Air Cargo World that the weekly flight to Chicago will slash delivery times from the Asia-Pacific region to North America by up to 25 percent, due to more-efficient ground-handling methods at the cargo’s destination. “Based on our experience at LAX, we bypass the terminal and transfer the freight to the trucks within 90 minutes of arrival at the destination,” he said. “We plan to translate these efficiencies to our operations at ORD.”
Flexport’s presence in Chicago has expanded rapidly in recent months, with the establishment last year of a new sales office. By the end of this year, Jones Shah said the staff in Chicago will expand by 50 as new product and engineering staff are hired.
By around April 1, he added, a new Flexport ORD Gateway facility will begin operations to handle the incoming Asia-Pacific goods, mostly consisting of apparel, consumer electronics and heavy industrial equipment destined for clients in the U.S. Midwest and East Coast.
With the speed of the PAS, “smaller brands will have a shot at competing with larger incumbents, while improving customer relations through quicker delivery times – a key measure of performance for consumers and their favorite brands,” Jones Shah added. In addition, Flexport offers real-time status updates on its digital platform, plus on-demand reporting “down to the SKU level and squad team members.”
Jones Shah also said the PAS service will expand to other gateways, but he could not yet provide details on the timing or location.