Southwest launches air cargo service at DSM
MICHAEL CRUMB May 23, 2022 | 8:10 pm
3 min read time665 wordsAll Latest News, Manufacturing & Logistics, Transportation
A Southwest Airlines ramp agent loads packages on a flight in Denver. The airline recently launched air freight service in Des Moines. Photo provided by Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines has begun offering air freight service in Des Moines as it continues to expand its cargo operation around the country.
“Des Moines has always been one of those markets we have been interested in and it’s taken us a little bit of time to get to the finish line and actually open a cargo business there, but it’s certainly been a point of interest,” said Wally Devereaux, vice president of cargo for Southwest.
Southwest ships cargo on its passenger planes to more than 100 destinations in its network.
of communities it serves, he said.
“There are all kinds of things that might move on our passenger aircraft, and this gives a nice option to the Des Moines community, especially from a business standpoint, to ship items to and from Des Moines,” Devereaux said. “It really allows you to move things today that you need to move quickly. If you need it there today, it’s the perfect choice for that and we’re excited about the opportunity to help out a little bit.”
Southwest is working with Swissport Cargo, which manages a cargo warehouse at the airport for handling cargo flown on its aircraft, and does not plan to immediately add staff with the added service, Devereaux said.
While he didn’t share the amount of cargo Southwest is projecting to carry in and out of Des Moines, Devereaux said the airline’s planes can carry between 1,000 and 3,000 pounds, depending on passenger and baggage loads.
The cargo the airline carries ranges from medical supplies to retail goods and perishable goods such as seafood. It also carries equipment for events, such as audiovisual equipment for concerts and sports, and its e-commerce business has grown dramatically over the past two years as more people shop online, Devereaux said.
“If you take a look at our business in 2021, it was a record year for us from a cargo standpoint,” he said.
Devereaux said the addition of Southwest cargo to the Des Moines market may help alleviate some of the delays being caused by supply chain disruptions.
“It becomes a nice option for offsetting or at least reducing delays further,” he said.
Southwest’s launch of cargo service in Des Moines comes as the airport is already experiencing growth in the amount of cargo it handles.
According to airport statistics, more than 6.8 million pounds of cargo passed through the airport in April, up 3% from April 2021. More than 25 million pounds of cargo has passed through the airport so far this year, up 0.3% from the same period in 2021.
The airport handled nearly 87 million pounds of cargo in 2021, a 16.4% increase from 2020.
In a Business Record article published in December, Kayla Kovarna, manager of communications, marketing and air service at the airport, said the airport is “uniquely positioned” for significant growth in its cargo operation.
“[With] the interstate system and the rail system here … they have great connectivity from our airport to anywhere in the state, so we feel like we are uniquely positioned and we hope there is the opportunity to grow pretty significantly from the air freight side of things,” she said in the December article.
Adding Southwest cargo brings the number of carriers providing air cargo service to Des Moines to four.
Kovarna said that talks to bring Southwest cargo to Des Moines began in February 2020 and that it’s believed the service will “enable business owners to efficiently get their products to their customers.”
“We do not have an estimate on the amount of cargo they will move and simply want local businesses to be aware of this new service and to use it to support their business operations,” she said. “Over time we trust we will see more cargo coming through Des Moines with this additional cargo service on-site.”