Plea to keep a special Queen of the Skies flying
Air France-KLMs announcement mid-March to ground its A380s and B747s in response to the 70-90% drop in passenger movement, prompted Stan Wraight, CEO of Strategic Aviation Solutions International, with a previous, 32-year history in cargo at KLM, to write an open letter to Ben Smith, Chairman Air France KLM Group and Peter Elbers President KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, to reconsider their decision with specific regard to KLM’s 747-400M Combi fleet. (7 of the airline’s 13 747s are combis, according to FlightRadar, and have an average age of about 25 years.) He reasons that the “B747-400 Combi saved KLM financially on numerous occasions as a true cargo aircraft was needed during the gulf war crisis, SARS etc.” and underlines the massive increase in cargo capacity offered by the 747-400M (Combi) when operated just for freight, at “easily 230 to 240 cubic meters” as opposed to the “best case for a pax 787/777 as a freight-only option is approx. 120 cubic meters.” Stressing that “much of the medical relief goods that people want to ship is volumetric and some of it will be main deck,” he urged: “Now more than ever these aircraft are needed to support humanitarian requirements for goods and services, keeping supply chains open so that production of these critical health-related supplies flow, and to enable people to retain their jobs in all the continents you serve. It is not an obligation, but it is certainly what morally you should be thinking of doing. The world will thank you in the end for this initiative, and I know the logistics community will back you.”
Time-sensitive cargo to be drone-delivered
Just 5 months after announcing its commercial agreement with DSV Air & Sea Inc. Canada through its sales agent, Air Canada, (23OCT19), on 23MAR20, Drone Delivery Canada Corp. (DDC) published that the project is now commercially operational. DDC’s drone delivery platform is provided for the use of DSV’s customers at DSV’s head office in Milton Ontario. Customers pay a monthly fee to DDC for each drone route deployed to carry inbound/outbound time-sensitive cargo. The step brings a number of firsts with it.
“With the commercial roll-out, we are looking ahead with our clients based on their unique needs and requirements. Many of our key clients are excited and ready to be part of these innovative next steps,” said Martin Roos, Managing Director – DSV Air & Sea, Canada.
“Air Canada is extremely proud to be a ‘First in Flight’ partner with DSV and Drone Delivery Canada,” said Tim Strauss, Vice President, Cargo at Air Canada. “We are entering a unique time in aviation history as we move towards a future that suggests an entirely new landscape of opportunities for the global supply chain. And we are beyond delighted that the front door to this new world is opening up right here in Canada enabled by the incredible technology Drone Delivery Canada has brought to the market.”
“This is a significant commercial landmark for the Company – our first operational, commercialized customer is now live. DSV is a global leader in the logistics industry and a perfect fit as a long-term, scalable customer for us,” said Michael Zahra, President & CEO of DDC. “We would like to thank our employees, shareholders, Air Canada and DSV for helping us achieve this major commercial milestone.”
PayCargo’s supports cargo community with free service
PayCargo, whose motto is “PayCargo makes it as easy as Ship, Click, and Pay,” has now added a free communication service on its online payment platform, intended to serve the cargo community during the COVID-19 crisis. Launched on 24MAR20, the service enables the 4,000 vendors (including air and sea logistics companies) currently using PayCargo, to quickly update the more than 20,000 payers on available cargo capacities. Something that is especially relevant now that cargo capacities are tight, and many passenger airlines are starting to offer cargo-only passenger flights as charters. PayCargo relays the information from vendors and enables payers to have direct contact. Delta Cargo and American Airlines Cargo were the first vendors to utilize the new, free community service.
"PayCargo is in a unique position to help the broader cargo community during this time of crisis, by facilitating the flow of critical information between Payers and Vendors," said Lionel van der Walt, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Americas, PayCargo. Van der Walt stated "While this may not be our core business, we feel that we need to do our bit to help the cargo community in this crisis and it is all about helping the wider freight community which is facing so many challenges globally. Collaboration between stakeholders is vital in this time of crisis and the supply chain needs to work together as much as possible for the greater good to help keep the freight moving as seamlessly as possible through the supply chain."
TIACA urges governments to facilitate air cargo flow
The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) keeps its members regularly updated on the progress of ICAO’s "COVID-19 Technical Group" which includes experts from the WHO, IATA, ACI and GEA and will include World Customs Organization this week, too. Its focus is on facilitating the global flow of air cargo, to ensure that necessary supply chains – especially those concerning aid and medical provisions - are kept running. It therefore has to deal with governments regarding overflight and landing rights, necessary privileges and immunities for relief units and crews, as well as charter permissions, for example. TIACA reports first positive results, Vladimir Zubkov, Secretary General of TIACA, stated in his message recently: "On Monday, for instance, I received a letter from the Russian authorities that specifically stated that flight crews were exempt from the 14-day quarantine." A number of other countries already allow quarantine exemptions for cargo flight crew members, and allow all cargo flights to continue to operate, but there are still many hurdles on country level: slot operations, types of cargo allowed, and various other restrictions still or currently in place. TIACA is also instrumental, together with IATA and ICAO Regional Offices, in urging the Ministers of Transport of Somalia and Djibouti to reconsider their decisions to include air cargo in the ban on all international flights within their respective countries.
"To expand the coverage, we invited both TIACA members and those who are not, to contribute by specifying their problems, and received already inputs from airlines, airports and logistics companies. It will be used in working with our international partners,” said Steven Polmans, Chairman of TIACA.
Alexandre de Juniac: “Cargo operations are vital.”
In the IATA Media Briefing on COVID-19 on 24 March 2020, Alexandre de Juniac reported on effect of the deepest crisis the aviation industry has ever known and summarized his talk with the following two messages: “This crisis has deepened. Revenue losses could reach $252 billion this year, and governments need to act fast with financial relief to avoid a liquidity crisis” and “Cargo operations are vital. Governments need to do all they can to facilitate an industry that is scrambling to meet demand.” He underlined the need for government financing to ensure that airlines, currently struggling to survive, could continue to put their staff and experience to good use in the global effort to contain the virus, stating that “Airlines are united with the global effort to stop a virus that is overwhelming our healthcare systems and threatening many lives. This is having a major impact on airlines and the value chain.”
Warning that many airlines will go bust without financial support, he pointed to impact going “far beyond the livelihoods of the 2.7 million people airlines employ. And it will go beyond the 65 million other jobs in the value chain. If we don’t have a viable aviation industry when we come out of this crisis - whenever that may be - re-starting the global economy will be severely constrained in almost all sectors. And everybody will suffer much longer than necessary.”
Turning to cargo, he illustrated the major efforts being undertaken to meet demand in times of severely reduced capacity, and the number of airlines moving to reintroducing freighters and to adapt passenger aircraft into their cargo operations, but that these efforts were often being thwarted by government restrictions in the shape of traffic rights, quarantine measures, crew accommodation problem, flight bans affecting cargo flights, excessive paperwork, cost and charges. His message: “Cargo operations are vital and time sensitive. I again call on governments to do all that is in their power so that we can get the cargo where it needs to be, fast.”
Turbulence in Airbus’, Bombardier’s and Boeing’s production facilities
COVID-19 continues to cause turbulence in aircraft production. Airbus has underlined its strict adherence to health and safety measures for its employees, at the same time focusing on ensuring business continuity. It reopened its production and assembly units in France and Spain on Monday, 23 March, after a 4-day closure, whilst operations in the UK, Germany and the U.S. continued as normal. As a result of closely monitoring stock levels and production flow in particular in the Germany and UK wing plants, Airbus has decided to reduce activities in Bremen, Filton and Broughton for the next 3 weeks, sending UK workers into an extended Easter holiday, whilst Bremen have a shortened working week. All sites remain open as Airbus maintains business continuity but at a reduced pace.
Over at Bombardier, production is suspended from 24MAR-26APR20, both at is operations in Canada, as well as its aerostructures unit in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The reason given, is the Canadian governmental restrictions on non-essential services in order to combat the spread of Covid-19, though the closure will impact both Bombardier’s aircraft and rail production. Frontline employees and less critical white-collar functions will be furloughed for the period, whilst senior management will receive no pay during the period, and the board of directors has agreed to forgo compensation for the rest of 2020. Other cost-cutting measures have also been taken.
Boeing also announced a temporary suspension of production operations at its Puget Sound area facilities, given the current corona state of emergency in Washington state. Suspension began on 25MAR and will last 14 days, during which time, additional deep cleaning activities will be carried out at the impacted sites, and Boeing will both monitor crisis developments as well as establish rigorous criteria for return to work. Those can work from home have been asked to do so, whilst staff who cannot work remotely will receive paid leave for the initial 10 working days of the suspension – double the company policy – and are ensured coverage for the 14 calendar day suspension period.
"We will keep our employees, customers and supply chain top of mind as we continue to assess the evolving situation," Boeing President, Calhoun, said. "This is an unprecedented time for organizations and communities across the globe.”
Embraer supports the COVID-19 crisis with ventilator manufacturing
Many companies these days are switching production items to those that are most needed in the global race to contain the COVID-19 spread. Embraer is one of them. On 25MAR20, it announced that it has begun making parts for the ventilator and respirator industry, has started cooperation with the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paolo to aid in providing technical support for air filter systems and air quality control so that regular hospital wards can be turned into intensive care units and is looking into the development of simple, robust and portable respirators aimed at rapid implementation and availability. This work is being carried out at the company’s headquarters in San Jose dos Campos.
The Embraer press statement read: “The global health care system is facing an unprecedented scenario, and Embraer plans to apply its capacity during this moment of global collaboration and demand for effective and short-term solutions. Embraer will keep monitoring the situation to find ways to contribute by utilizing its expertise integrating complex systems for the benefit of the society in this worldwide cooperation to combat COVID-19.”
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