Cargo boom at Ostend Airport
Cargo volumes at Ostend-Bruges International Airport rose by 53% in the first quarter of 2020, due to additional traffic generated by the Covid-19 pandemic. In March, the tonnage rose by 89% compared to March 2019. Over the first three months of 2020, OST handled 9,822 tons, a 53% rise against 2019’s 6,240 tons. According to the airport management, the pandemic has led to a rise in the demand for cargo flights. Other Belgian airports are struggling with a lack of capacity and manpower. “Our existing customers have increased their frequencies and other carriers such as Qatar Cargo and Kalitta are flying to Ostend,” says Marketing & Communication Manager, Vanessa Flamez. According to Ms Flamez, the volume has been equally distributed among the airport’s handling companies, including newcomer Bcube. As on all other airports, Ostend’s tourism-related passenger traffic has plummeted, and the airport is focusing almost completely on cargo.
Re-connecting to its cargo roots: Avion Express goes cargo
15 years ago, Avia Solutions Group subsidiary and ACMI operator Avion Express, which calls itself an “Airline for Airlines” started out as a cargo and passenger airline and very quickly grew to an A320-specialised fleet of 22, servicing mainly passenger clients throughout Europe, Africa, Asia-Pacific, and South America. Those destinations will now have a cargo rather than passenger focus during COVID-19. In 2019, which was record business year for Avion Express, with 15% production increase, it established its own subsidiary, Avion Express Malta which, with FAA approval, is now also available for cargo transportation to and from the USA and Canada.
“Transportation doesn’t stop with passenger flights being suspended. While the very last repatriation flights are still taking place, people and organizations around the world are in great need of supplies, food, medical equipment. As Avion Express has always been characterized by its flexibility, we are now adapting our operations in accordance with market requirements. Although we are currently mostly focusing on the transportation of humanitarian aid and medical equipment in the fight against COVID-19, other cargo requests are also very welcomed and thoroughly considered”, – said Darius Kajokas, CEO Avion Express
Avion Express’ website underlines the message: “We are ready to offer freight capabilities of up to 17 tons of cargo with A320, and up to 24 tons with A321 in the cargo compartment as well as in the cabin. Currently, numerous A320s and A321s, based in Central and Eastern Europe are ready for service.”
TIACA continues efforts to secure immediate support for air cargo
The ICAO-led "COVID-19 Technical Group" met again on 30MAR20 with experts from the WHO, IATA, ACI, CANSO, FIATA, GEA and WCO, where TIACA once more strongly underlined air cargo’s key importance in keeping the flow of medical supplies and equipment, as well as global supply chains running during the current crisis. "Everyone, and governments in particular, should be aware of the fact that in this period of unprecedented crisis, air cargo is more vital than ever. Every effort should be made to increase the efficiency of air cargo operations, in both financial and operational terms," said Vladimir Zubkov, TIACA's General Secretary, calling for the immediate implementation of measures such as:
- Governmental financial support for air cargo stakeholders in the form of subsidies, bank guarantees, and tax and contribution deferrals
- Simplified processes regarding charter traffic rights (pharmaceutical products, masks, medicines, etc.) and temporarily relaxed regulations (air freedom restrictions, airport switching, slot amendments)
- Recognizing the essential nature of handling and maintenance agents
- Priority handling of "Charter pharma flights against COVID-19" (apron and warehouse) across all airports worldwide
- Aircraft leasing companies to simplify leasing contract reviews, including eliminating sanctions and allowing repayment holidays
"TIACA was able to put all of these important and concrete requests to the ICAO technical group thanks to feedback from TIACA members and the association's unfailing commitment to fight on behalf of and alongside the air cargo industry," said Steven Polmans.
Schiphol Airport enables shippers to keep track of air cargo capacity
Amsterdam Schiphol Airport has launched a daily list of all incoming and departing cargo flights up to 4 days in advance. The list gives a better understanding of which destinations are offered by which airline.
The Dutch shippers’ organization evofenedex has applauded the initiative as it offers commercial and manufacturing companies dependent on air cargo more reliability during the present crisis and improves their bargaining position.
Schiphol Airport has freed more slots for cargo operations, increasing the capacity. This has led to shippers losing an oversight of the air cargo network available at Schiphol.
The lack of transparency means that shippers are often uncertain as to whether they can still send their consignments by air. On top of that, they face rapidly increasing rates, which can be up to ten times the normal rate, due to the lack of capacity.
“The transparency offered by Schiphol Airport has given entrepreneurs the insight needed, while countering the excesses, and it will enable the companies to support the Dutch aviation industry by sending their consignments ex Schiphol,” says evofenedex.
Over the last two weeks the number of cargo flights operated at SPL has increased from an average 260 to 360 per week.
LUG aircargo handling GmbH doubles its directorship
APR20 saw the appointment of Rainer Wittenfeld (57) as a second Managing Director alongside Patrik Tschirch. Rainer Wittenfeld, Managing Director of Perishable-Center GmbH & Co. Betriebs-KG at Frankfurt Airport, in which LUG aircargo handling GmbH holds a 40% stake, has been appointed by the LUG Supervisory Board to the Executive Board of LUG, where, in addition to his PCF responsibilities, he is responsible for the operational and administrative issues of the group within the management, while Patrik Tschirch, who has been managing LUG for eight years, covers all sales-related issues. "Our company has grown enormously in recent years. With our independently operating network units in Frankfurt, Munich and Hamburg, as well as our investment in the Perishable Center and our real estate holdings at Frankfurt Airport, we are very challenged. Our customer base has also grown. Since the beginning of the year, LUG has been handling cargo for the American airline Delta at the Frankfurt hub. Delta has been our customer in Munich for over five years. In addition, strong cargo carriers such as Korean Air are among our long-standing customers. To give us more momentum to further expand our services and infrastructure and to achieve the ambitious goals we have set ourselves, we had to strengthen our management team. I am delighted to have Rainer Wittenfeld on board now," Patrik Tschirch states.
Rainer Wittenfeld adds: "I am happy to take on the additional responsibility as a member of the management board at LUG aircargo handling. I have known the company and Patrik Tschirch for many years. We have worked together very well so far and will work even more closely together in the future. I am convinced that together we will expand the existing business and operate it successfully in the long term".
The Era of the Cargo Seat Bag
As more passenger airlines offer their empty aircraft up for charter, ensuring the safe cargo transport on the passenger deck is rapidly increasing in importance. One such solution is the Airbus A320 Cargo Seat Bag developed jointly by parts supplier Colibri Aero and design firm J&C Aero. Designed to maximize available cargo space on a passenger configured A320 family aircraft, while at the same time ensuring that the cargo is securely fixed, this particular cargo bag quickly received EASA Supplemental Type certification to make it immediately available to airlines. Custom-designed for the narrowbodies of the A320 aircraft family, the cargo seat bag provides 76x76x147 cm (30x30x58 inches) of cargo capacity, allowing for up to 75 kg (165 lb) of cargo to be built-up on each seat, whilst an additional 9 kg (20 lb) can be stored under the seat, totaling around 252 kg (555 lb) of cargo capacity per 3-seat row. The cargo bag can be installed easily, within minutes and without the need for expensive cabin modifications.
Speaking to Aviation Pros, J&C Aero CCO, Laurynas Skukauskas, said: “We started the development of the modification back in 2019, with numerous testing and continuous consultations with both aviation authorities and airlines along the way. In February 2020, amidst the growing concerns over what now is known as the COVID-19 pandemic, we decided to put additional resources to the project in order to have a certified modification as soon as possible. We are thankful to our team and European aviation authorities whose close cooperation will allow us to deliver the modification to the market at a time of need.”
Airbus moves to printing hospital visors in Spain
Over 20 3D printers are working around to clock in most of Airbus’ Spanish sites, churning out visor frames which are then distributed to Spanish hospitals close by. Airbus’ patented visor frame, made with PLA plastics, is designed to protect healthcare personnel in the fight against Covid-19. Though, the majority of production at Airbus’ sites in Spain halted following the Royal Decree of 29 March and non-essential production will remain on hold until 09APR20, Airbus employees are allowed on site to carry out this essential activity. "One of the reasons I love my job is the capability we have for advanced design and quick manufacture. Overnight, we have gone from making aerospace concepts to medical equipment. This genuinely makes a difference in the fight against the pandemic and I couldn’t be prouder of our teams working day and night on this Airbus project,” Alvaro Jara, Head of Airbus Protospace, Getafe, Madrid, said.
Airbus in Germany has also joined the project: the Airbus Protospace Germany and the Airbus Composite Technology Centre (CTC) in Stade, participate in the 3D-printing network called “Mobility goes Additive,” supporting the Spanish project and coordinating the collection and transport of visors to the Madrid region.
Airbus flies millions of face masks from China to Europe in fight against COVID-19
An Airbus flight test crew has just completed its latest mission on Covid-19 with an A350-1000 test aircraft, the third of this kind. The aircraft left Toulouse on Friday 3 April, reaching the Airbus site in Tianjin on 4 April and returning to Hamburg the same day with a cargo of 4 million face masks on board.
Since mid-March, the previous two missions were performed by an A330-800, and an A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT). Airbus also deployed an A400M and its Beluga fleet to transport shipments of masks between its European sites, in France, Germany, Spain and the UK.
"I would like to pay tribute to all the Airbus teams, globally, supporting the fight against COVID-19. They're living our values in assisting those who are saving lives every day,” commented Guillaume Faury, Airbus CEO.
In a release, the European aircraft manufacturer stresses that it is focused on the health and safety of its employees and supporting its customers and the industry eco-system with business continuity. At the same time Airbus is contributing to many vital public and private services and working with partners who rely on aircraft, helicopters, space and security solutions to carry out life-saving missions in support of the global fight against the pandemic.
Positive news in turbulent times: cargo-partner moves into BUD Cargo City
On 30MAR20, cargo-partner became one of the first new tenants of the BUD’s Cargo City which was inaugurated in NOV19 [CFG attended and reported], thus cementing the expansion plans of one of its first foreign network branches. Established by in 1994, cargo-partner in Hungary now employs more than 140 employees at three locations in Hungary – BUD Cargo City, Budapest and Gyál.
The latest warehouse location includes pallet slots for temporary rack storage on over 1,200 m² of warehouse space, bringing the Hungarian subsidiary’s current warehouse capacity up to 33,000 m² at Budapest Airport. It also boasts a dedicated cross-docking area, 5 truck docks with high roller shutters for oversized cargo, temperature-controlled storage, an extended 250m² mezzanine for high value, and 400 m² of office space for over 40 cargo-partner employees.
Attila Becze, cargo-partner's Sub-Region Director for Hungary and Romania, commented: "The expansion of our capacities reflects our commitment to the Central and Southern European market as well as the steadily increasing demand in this region. In recent years, BUD has been able to draw attention to itself with its ambitious development program as an air cargo hub. Against this background, we would like to position ourselves with our diverse range of services on the constantly growing local air freight market."
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