Air forwarders recognize Southwest as best domestic airline — again

Blue/orange plane beneath a giant American flag.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The New England Patriots are the closest thing to an American sports dynasty, with six Super Bowl wins since 2001. That’s weak tea compared with Southwest Airlines Cargo’s domination.

On Monday, the Airforwarders Association (AfA) named the carrier the best domestic airline for the 11th consecutive year. The trade association picked Lufthansa Cargo as its international carrier of the year.

The results were announced at the AfA’s membership meeting during the Air Cargo 2020 conference here, which brings together airlines, airport authorities, freight forwarders, truckers and expedited companies. Members were surveyed on a number of service parameters, including speed and reliability.

Southwest Airlines moves more than 200 million pounds of cargo each year. It offers expedited cargo service throughout its regional network, including complimentary road feeder service at certain locations and interline destinations.

“I think, at the end of the day we have really passionate people at Southwest that care about the business and that comes out when interacting with customers,” Wally Devereaux, Southwest Airlines’ managing director of cargo and charters, said in a FreightWaves TV live interview here. “We resolve problems, we try to work through different things and we have a terrific network that’s a bit unique and offers a lot of redundancy, ways to get freight from point A to point B. At the end of the day, what the freight forwarding community really wants is cargo to move. So it’s really a tribute to our folks in the field who do the heavy lifting.”

Airforwarders Association Executive Director Brandon Fried (center) with Wally Devereaux, Southwest Airlines’ managing director of cargo and charters, Steve Massa, senior sales manager, cargo sales, (both to immediate right) and others in the Southwest Airlines Cargo team after being honored by AfA as “Best Domestic Airline.”

The trade association’s top pick for best surface carrier in 2019 is Forward Air. Forward Air is an expedited less-than-truckload carrier that provides long-distance delivery between cargo owners and airports, and also airport-to-airport delivery on behalf of airlines that often use the truck mode when they can get a load to its destination within its delivery window.

Lufthansa Cargo, the logistics arm for Deutsche Lufthansa AG, is one of the largest airfreight companies in the world. In 2018 it had gross sales of 2.7 billion euros and 8.9 billion revenue ton-kilometers. The carrier serves about 300 destinations in more than 100 countries with its own fleet of freighters and the belly capacities of passenger aircraft operated by Lufthansa German Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Eurowings and SunExpress, along with a road feeder service network. Most of its cargo business is routed through Frankfurt Airport.

The Jim Foster Memorial Award posthumously went to Beti Ward, a former board member who founded and led Pacific Air Cargo, which provides Boeing 747 service from Los Angeles to Hawaii and onward to American Samoa. The award is named for the AfA’s founder and goes to someone who has made a significant contribution to the industry and the organization.