IN BRIEF, THE LATEST CARGO AIRLINE INDUSTRY NEWS.
DHL and Wingcopter celebrate breakthrough of drone project in Africa
Over a six-month period, the companies successfully tested the delivery of medicines using a drone flying from the mainland of Tanzania near Mwanza to a remote island in Lake Victoria. During the trials, the autonomous drone named ‘DHL Parcelcopter 4.0‘ completed the 60 km flight from the launching site at the coastal area to the island in 40 minutes on average. A total of 2,200 km were flown and roughly 2,000 flight minutes recorded during the pilot project, states a DHL release.
The drone, built by Darmstadt, Germany-based Wingcopter paves the way for delivering medicines and other supplies for the health sector in remote areas. Like in Tanzania where medical care for the roughly 400,000 residents of the Ukerewe island district of Lake Victoria, for instance, is severely limited. This is partly due to the poor infrastructure and difficult terrain. Six hours are needed to cover the overland route of 240 km. That makes it nearly impossible to provide emergency medication or to quickly refill cool chain commodities that are out of stock.
A key feature is that the Parcelcopter 4.0 barely needs any infrastructure as it takes off and lands vertically. After delivering its cargo, it can easily be loaded with blood and laboratory samples to take back to the mainland, reads the DHL release. The trials proved that in future, the Parcelcopter has the potential to help prevent crises worldwide, for example allowing an early response to slow the spread of viral diseases like Ebola.
Qatar Airways cargo revenues up despite blockade
Qatar Airways fiscal year 2017/2018 ended in March 2018 and the carrier lists a QR251.8 million net loss compared to a net profit of QR2.79 billion in 2016/2017. Much of this is attributed to the blockade imposed on Qatar by other Gulf states.
However, despite the blockade, cargo revenues and tonnages rose considerably during the past year. The carrier states that cargo revenues increased by almost 35% against an increase in capacity of 14%. This enabled Qatar Airways Cargo division to record 1.36 million tons flown - an increase of 17.8% on the previous year. The carrier recently took delivery of a further two B777 freighters from the Boeing factory in Seattle. They still have an option with Airbus to take eight A330 freighters as well. Qatar Airways now operates 213 aircraft and has a further 300 different types on order with Boeing and Airbus.
Cargo demand rises 2.3% in August
Figures released early last week by IATA show that demand in air cargo which they measure in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs), went up by 2.3% in August compared to the previous year. They also state that “this pace of growth was unchanged from the previous month but was less than half the five-year average growth rate of 5.1%. Freight capacity on offer also grew by 4.5% in comparison to August last year. A strange development as this shows that capacity has for the sixth month in a row grown more than actual demand.
Are we looking at an eventual rundown?
IATA maintains that there is still considerable consumer confidence out there and of course there is still the continued demand in the e-commerce sector. There are, IATA says, three factors however which are negatively affecting demand. A broad weakening in the export order books, longer supply delivery times and the risk for global trade due to the tariffs being imposed by the USA and China.
Freight trains crossing the Eurasian land bridge celebrate 10-year anniversary
The first regular scheduled container train, loaded with computers, railed from Xiangtang to Hamburg in October 2008. Since the beginning of these services exactly a decade ago, more than 3,600 cargo trains crossed the Eurasian land bridge. Right from the start, the number of containers transported on the sector Europe-Asia has seen a consistent rise. Now, Deutsche Bahn, the initiator of the runs and still one of the key operators, stated that they expect the number of standard containers travelling on this sector to reach the 90,000 mark in 2018. By 2020 it will be 100,000 steel boxes crossing the Eurasian land corridor.
Since the market demand for rail transports is growing steadily, DB decided to establishe a new unit, DB Cargo Eurasia. The aim is to provide dedicated services to the users and to shift more traffic between Europe and Asia from ocean or air to rail over the long term. For this purpose, a dedicated office opened in Shanghai in August.
"Our new sales unit, DB Cargo Eurasia, is helping us to offer even more products and services traveling by train and improve our productivity,“ stated Alexander Doll, Member of the DB Management Board for Freight Transport and Logistics.
With an average running time of 14 to 16 days, the Eurasian rail services are faster than ocean transports and less expensive than air. And it's more climate friendly, too. While customers previously needed to book an entire block train, they now have the option of having individual containers and even individual packages transported on any train, DB Cargo emphasizes.
Anchorage Airport takes 5th cargo rank
Once thought to be put on the back burner as an international freighter airport, Anchorage International Airport (AIA) has bounced back to take fifth place in the Airport Council International (ACI) rankings. The airport has again become popular with the increased traffic on the Trans Pacific sectors.
Hong Kong continues to hold the number 1 position, followed by Memphis and Shanghai. ACI figures show that a total of 118,612,750 tons were handled by the world’s airports last year. Of this, the thirty busiest world airports handled 62 million tons in total which represents around 52% of the global air cargo volume.
Jeju Air to commence domestic cargo operations
The Korea based Low Cost Carrier, Jeju Air which in the meantime has a fleet of almost 40 aircraft, has started domestic cargo operations using the capacity on offer in the bellies of their B737-800 fleet of passenger aircraft.
The main trunk sector Jeju to Gimpo is served by the carrier with between 130 to 140 weekly flights which can give Jeju Air the possibility to uplift between 12 and 15 tons daily on this sector alone. Jeju Air also operates regional international services out of Seoul Incheon and has been selling cargo space on those sectors for some time. It is expected that Jeju Air will offer further belly space on other domestic destinations from Jeju in the near future.
CEVA helps out on last year’s hurricane damage
Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico jet over a year ago and resulted in heavy damage to the island’s infrastructure, and schools. There are 240.000 children in Puerto Rico who are of school age and who have for the past twelve months had to learn in badly damaged buildings where many did not have desks to sit at.
The Dallas Mavericks Puerto Rican born star, J.J. Barea along with VARIDESK CEO Jason McCann and CEVA Logistics joined forces during the past year to bring relief goods and equipment to the island. On top of the priority list was the need to get the schools up-and-running again and CEVA Logistics working alongside VARIDESK have managed to so far deliver 500 desks and seating to four larger schools spread throughout Puerto Rico. These were moved in three 40 foot ocean containers. The relief effort will continue during the coming months as there is much to be done to try and get the devastated island back to normal. A total of 1,400 were killed in the Category 4 storm which it the island in September of last year.
Nigeria OKs Air Peace cargo operation
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has granted Lagos based Air Peace a permit to operate charter and cargo operations in addition to the carrier’s present passenger operations. Air Peace has a fleet of 16 aircraft, thirteen of which are B737-300s and -500s, as well as 3 ERJ-145s and a single Dornier 328 aircraft. They have a further ten B737-800 aircraft on order and have recently taken delivery of two Boeing 777 passenger aircraft. It is not yet known on which routes Air Peace plans to operate the new long-haul aircraft.
Virgin Atlantic runs 3% growth in first half-year
Virgin Atlantic Cargo has surpassed its 2017 first half-year volumes by recording a 3% growth figure for January - June 2018.
The increase in express, life science, automotive and precious cargo carried by the airline in this period has been the main contributor to the growth in tonnages carried. The 3% increase follows on Virgin Atlantic Cargo’s five-year high results which they had published for the same period in 2017. The carrier states that express shipments grew in the first half year due to the booming e-commerce market and the new Pharma Zone at heathrow which Virgin Atlantic opened in late 2017 has contributed considerably with a notable increase in pharma products being carried. The Atlantic joint venture with Delta Cargo has, the carrier says, also given more tonnage.
John Mc Donagh