IN BRIEF - THE LATEST AIR CARGO INDUSTRY NEWS
Herb Kelleher - LCC pioneer dies
The well respected and successful aviation pioneer, Herbert D. “Herb” Kelleher passed away on January 3rd at age 87.
Herb Kelleher started his career as a lawyer and then opened his own law firm in Texas, already had the idea in 1960s of offering the American traveling public a low-cost airline. He joined up with one of his clients and took over Air Southwest Inc. They then changed the name of the carrier to Southwest Airlines and after a long legal battle to position it in the market as an LCC airline, he got airborne in mid-1971.
Since then there was no looking back as Herb Kelleher and his team grew Southwest Airlines into a major carrier in the USA. Operating with 750 Boeing 737’s. Southwest under Herb’s guidance has built an impressive passenger network and has consistently shown profits over the years. The airline also offers a dense air cargo network throughout the USA and has a cargo cooperation with Canada’s Westjet.
Herb Kelleher was Southwest Airlines Executive Chairman for 30 years before stepping down in 2008. He was loved and respected by his staff and he revolutionized the industry with his LCC concept which has been copied by many, but none yet as successful as he was.
Atran receives fourth B737 freighter
Volga-Dnepr’s air express daughter company, Atran Airlines, has just taken delivery of their fourth Boeing 737-400 BCF freighter. Atran specializes in the transport of e-commerce, mail and express shipments within Russia, the CIS and other European destinations from its base in Moscow. The converted B737 freighter can carry up to 23 tons of cargo over a distance of 3,700 kilometers. It has a main-deck side door and can carry eleven standard pallets on the main deck, or a fixture of pallets and containers.
The carrier has built up a reliable network in the past few years and is also important for Moscow-based AirBridgeCargo Airlines, who can utilise the services of Atran Airlines for the on forwarding of e-commerce traffic which originates in the Far East and which can be transferred to Atran services at their Moscow hub.
American B767s will go to ATSG
The Wilmington, Ohio-based Air Transport Services Group, better known as ATSG, will take over twenty Boeing 767-300ER passenger aircraft from American Airlines during the coming three years. The aircraft are being deleted from American’s fleet as newer types arrive. ATSG will have the 767s converted to freighters and it is said that many of them will then be contracted out to Amazon, who recently announced that they will increase their B767 freighter fleet.
The aircraft in question were manufactured between 1993 and 2003 and ATSG is said to have planned freighter configurations for six aircraft during 2019 and the remaining in 2020 and 2021. Once all conversions are completed, ATSG will own a fleet of almost sixty B767Fs.
Johannesburg plans new cargo facility
South Africa’s largest airport, Johannesburg OR Tambo Airport has been granted approval by the Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) to go ahead with planning the first phase of a new cargo facility at the airport. Once completed, the new air cargo set-up will be capable of handling up to 750,000 tons per annum. This is part of a so called 30 year aerotropolis master plan for South African airports. The present planning shows that the cargo facility which will cater for hi-tech, agricultural and food processing logistics companies, will be situated within 30 kilometers of Johannesburg Airport.
Johannesburg Airport is the largest of South Africa’s airport hubs and caters for around 50% of South Africa’s travelers as well as the largest portion of air cargo handled in the country.
Qatar Airways invests in China Southern
The Doha-based Qatar Airways Group has announced that they will purchase 5% of the total share capacity of Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines. This is seen as being a move by Qatar Airways to strengthen their position in the Chinese market. China Southern also has a large Chinese domestic network which can then be utilised by Qatar Airways to feed passenger traffic into China.
China Southern also owns a fleet of twelve B777 freighters which operate on routes out of China to the USA and Europe. Qatar Airways Cargo also operates fifteen B777Fs and it seems that future cargo synergies between both carriers will become stronger.
November air cargo has a hangover
Yield up, but volumes down - that’s the picture shown for air cargo in November by the renowned WorldACD Market Data.
The figures published by WorldACD highlight the fact that November was usually the busiest month of the year for air cargo transport - but not so in November 2018.
Volumes were 1.4% lower than in November 2017 and 2% lower than in October of 2018. It is interesting to note that WorldACD reports another average yield increase in November. Yield went up by 3.5% compared to November 2017 and was 4% higher than in October of 2018. Year-on-year yields (measured in euros) are reported to have increased by 7% for 2018. Good news for the airlines, despite a drop in volumes. The uncertainty in the market is not being made any better by the danger of new trade restrictions or customs tariffs which may well still be implemented by China and the USA in their tit-for-tat fight. This makes it very difficult to look at a reliable prognosis for the first months of 2019.
Ideal Flowerbox introduced to increase weight
The Dutch have proven in the past to be an inventive nation.
The Holland Flower Alliance (HFA), Royal FloraHolland and KLM Cargo have announced after a two month test on flights between Kenya’s Nairobi Airport and Amsterdam Schiphol, that they have come up with a way to better utilise empty space between flower boxes loaded on aircraft pallets and thereby gain more weight per pallet.
Together they have tested what they term as being the ‘Ideal Flowerbox’ on flights from NBO to AMS and claim that they have been able to gain a further 15% of weight on flowers loaded. Flowers are lightweight cargo but take up more volume on pallets than most general cargo shipments. The trial tests which were led by Royal FloraHolland using the newly created Ideal Flowerbox could be very beneficial for shippers who are being pressed by airlines to pay more for volumetric weight compared to actual weight. A second series of tests will be carried out, and if successful, could lead to the Ideal Flowerbox being quickly introduced on other traditional air cargo flower routes around the globe.
John Mc Donagh