IAG chief executive Willie Walsh says there is now "no connection" between the cargo and passenger markets, and that having no full freighters in the airline group's fleet will be an "advantage".
A wet-leasing arrangement covering three Boeing 747-8 freighters operated by Atlas Air's Global Supply Systems has been terminated by British Airways, effective April, while parent IAG and Oneworld partner Qatar Airways have struck a capacity deal which Walsh says gives "flexibility" to both parties.
"The traditional lead indicator that cargo provided is completely gone," says Walsh. The passenger and air freight markets, he adds, "have dislocated, and we believe that's a permanent feature".
Bellyhold capacity made available by growth of passenger operations has eliminated IAG's need for dedicated cargo flights. "The advantage that we have is we do not have any freighters," says Walsh. "Volume is absolutely no measure of success in the cargo market. We see competitors chasing volume that we know is unprofitable."
Briefing an audience of analysts on IAG's 2013 financial results, Walsh added: "Don't be concerned if you see our cargo volumes decline; don't be concerned if you see our competitors increasing their cargo volumes. We are very focused on the value of our cargo business."