Bezos buys into Beacon
Founded just 2 years ago by a couple of former UBER executives and an ex-Amazon expert, combining expertise in logistics, technology, finance, and hyper-growth, they set up Beacon – a “next generation” digital freight forwarding company based in London, committed to radically simplifying how companies import and export goods globally. Focusing on global ocean, air, and road freight, all from a single platform, Beacon not only offers real-time data of cargo delivery and a marketplace view of global shipping costs and prices, warehousing, customs, and insurance, its largest USP is supply chain finance enabling simpler, more transparent and more reliable transactions – something that has already attracted a growing customer base. Using state-of-the-art Artificial Intelligence, search, optimisation, data science, cloud and automation technologies, the platform is continuously learning, optimizing shipping routes, enabling cost reductions and greater speed.
Initially seeded by representatives from Uber, Google, and firms such as Neo, Red Sea Ventures, Mantaray and FJ Labs, the Series A fundraising round aimed at investing in new staff, technology and market expansion, recently secured 15 million USD from Amazon Founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, as well as from the U.S. venture capital firm 8VC.
The press statement outlined “The freight forwarding and supply chain finance industries are worth an estimated $1 trillion and $12 trillion a year, respectively, with the former still a highly fragmented market in which the top ten forwarders globally control just 43%. Many of the logistics incumbents have been slow to digitise, and with fewer than 30% of shippers being satisfied with the customer service they receive, the industry is ripe for disruption” and Beacon co-founder and CEO Fraser Robinson pointed to the company’s mission to become the leading Digital Freight Forwarder and Finance Supply Chain, said: “Our goal is to disrupt the trillion-dollar freight forwarder market by vastly improving the experience for importers and exporters with a more transparent and smarter shipping product. We also believe that our ability to offer supply chain finance can be transformative for our customers by allowing them to better control and manage their cash flow. We have built a team with deep expertise in technology, logistics and finance in a short period of time – these new funds will enable us to continue to strengthen that team and invest in our technology, while also increasing our international presence.
With digitalisation accelerating globally as a result of COVID-19, we believe the future of the traditional freight forwarder is more precarious than ever. Shippers are seeking technology-led products and services that will meet their needs more effectively, enhance their experience and cut their costs. We look forward to meeting that demand.”
Preighter-Loading done the right way
With over 1,600 passenger aircraft from more than 120 airlines now operating as cargo-only flights, training and work safety is more important than ever. Given that the cargo-loading procedures differ to the norm, and – added to that – health regulations need to be adhered to, clear instructions are required. In line with its online training strategy, since classroom trainings may well be a thing of the past over the next weeks and months, for reasons of health, travel and budget restraints, Airport College International has added the latest course to its training portfolio – and it is free of charge: Transportation Cargo in Passenger Cabin is aimed at airline and ground-handling staff.
The course, which lasts roughly half an hour, and includes a 5-question test with certificate for those who pass at the end, covers all aspects of passenger-freighter work, from what to load in the cabins and how, what restrictions there are, regulatory requirements, safety, security, cargo terminal operations, cabin configurations, post-unloading procedures, and cabin crew responsibilities.
"Airport College International wants to support colleagues around the world during these challenging times and wants to provide this course FREE for Airlines and Ground Handling Agents", says Airport College International COO Ari Ketola.
"In April, we launched a free COVID-19 online course that has been used in more than 140 countries around the world. The very positive feedback received from customers encouraged us to make a new course, which we now launch for global use. We want to encourage all employees involved in cargo transportation in passenger cabin to study this course. Feel free to share information about this course with your colleagues and stakeholders", says Airport College International CEO Pertti Mero.
VRR’s free online TCU Reader launched
VRR is certainly churning out service enhancements these days, having recently launched a multi-modal container at the end of last month, and now introducing a free online Temperature Control Unit (TCU) Reader Tool that monitors dry ice containers – complimenting the free online dry ice calculator it presented mid-April.
With the current struggles in moving perishables and pharma given the lack of capacities, the TCU Reader Tool may be all the more useful, given that containers could be spending more time than normal en route. Longer transport times mean greater risks of the dry ice being used to keep products cool, turning to gas. Not just the transport length, but also the container type, the set point and the outside temperature along the journey affect the lifespan of the dry ice used. For products in the cool-chain, knowing the internal container temperature that they have been exposed to en route, is not only important, in some cases it can even be a matter of life or death (if medication is not sufficiently cooled, for example.)
The TCU Reader Tool provides a simple data log in an easy-to-read, one-page report showing the key temperature data and the relevant transportation parameters, which can easily be shared with customers, and replacing any time-intensive inhouse reporting processes.
Volga-Dnepr and Boeing at loggerheads over freighter orders
Volga-Dnepr UK is taking the Boeing Company to court in Washington, USA, for failing to deliver its order of four freighters: one Boeing 747-8F and three B777Fs. Volga-Dnepr, which already has 27 Boeing aircraft in its fleet, and 12 pending orders (four B747-8F, and nine B777Fs), is convinced in the case of the four widebodies that were due for delivery this year, that “Boeing seeks to sell them to another buyer instead,” (the filing reads), and calls the aircraft manufacturer out on a “violation of contact terms”, wanting compensation for lost earnings and payments made. Yet, there is disagreement over what has been paid.
Volga-Dnepr appealed to Boeing, underlining that it supported the company even in difficult times: “Despite market situation in 2019 when freight rates and volumes decreased worldwide as well as further crucial market disruption in the beginning of 2020, [Volga-Dnepr] continued efforts to ensure opportunities for the new aircraft deliveries. In particular, [Volga-Dnepr] proceeded with search of financing, being also forced to cut back its debt burden and reduce the fleet by three [B747-400F] aircraft. Once those measures were successfully implemented, [Volga-Dnepr] has given priority to new deliveries within its partnership with Boeing.”
Whilst Boeing stated that Volga-Dnepr had already pulled out of its agreements, pre-COVID: “Volga Dnepr UK literally walked away from two purchase agreements with Boeing back in January and February of this year―one for 747-8Fs and the other for 777Fs.” Yet that Volga-Dnepr then wished to revoke the cancellation of the B747-8F deal in April, and then the 777F in May, with the rise in need for freighters. Both companies now accuse each other of trying to draw profit from the corona crisis.
So far, the US Judge appears to be on Boeing’s side, given that he recently denied Volga-Dnepr’s request that Boeing be prevented from selling the aircraft to other buyers.
Building a new airport can get hairy!
Whilst Berlin is faced with the mammoth task of finally deciding which of its airports will be used when, those constructing the new Mexico City airport are faced with mammoth tusks! During the site excavations, what is probably the oldest man-made animal trap was uncovered, containing probably more than 60 mammoth skeletons. It is thought that they died while trying to flee from prehistoric hunters around 15,000 years ago and ended up stuck in the mud of the shores of Lake Xaltocan which existed at that time. “It’s possible they may have chased them into the mud,” Archaeologist Pedro Sánchez Nava said, explaining that our ancestors “had a very structured and organized division of labor” when it came to obtaining mammoth meat. Those muddy shores are long gone, and the site was used as a military airport which is now being converted to civilian use. Pedro Sánchez Nava expects that there are more skeletons to come: “There are too many, there are hundreds”. Currently, the archeologists have been uncovering an average of 10 mammoths a month at the site, which will continue to be excavated until 2022, when the airport’s construction is expected to finish.
Most mammoths died out circa 10,000 years ago, at the end of the last ice age, however one population numbering a few hundred was able to survive on Wrangel Island off the coast of Russia until around 4,000 years ago. Many of these mammoth are coming to light now, with global warming and the melting of permafrost.
As regards the Mexican mammoths, it is the second such find in a year. In NOV19, 14 mammoths were discovered at Tultepec, just 6 miles away from the new site. Those animals bore clear signs that they had been caught and butchered by hunters.
Help after all for SAA?
The South African Airways administrators delivered their proposal on 01JUN20, for the rescue of SAA, and requested 1.2 billion USD (2.1 billion ZAR) from the government as a bailout which will be used to repay lenders and help the airline gain its wings again once the COVID-19 travel bans are lifted.
Back in April of this year, when the administrators’ plan was then rejected, it looked very much as if the final bell had tolled (CFG reported) for SAA, with the imminent letting go of staff from 01MAY20, yet according to the spokesperson for the Public Enterprises Department (which received the draft SAA Business Rescue Plan), Sam Mkokeli, “President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday [31MAY20] told members of the South African National Editors’ Forum that he saw a good future for the airline, which enjoys support right across the continent. The aviation industry plays a pivotal role in the battle against Coronavirus, as Johannesburg could be a hub to distribute Covid-19 medical supplies." The final version of the Business Rescue Plan is due to be presented on 08JUN20.
With the exception of the JNB-CPT connections, SAA’s commercial passenger planes are grounded since late March, due to corona restrictions. Also on hold, are talks with potential investors: two had already been identified pre-pandemic, and a third was ready to discuss an alliance at the time. Even with a 2.1 billion ZAR bailout, a tsunami of debts awaits the carrier: 17 billion ZAR to repay South African Airways creditors, (the carrier’s two biggest commercial lenders are Johannesburg-based rivals Nedbank Ltd. and Absa Group Ltd.), a 2 billion ZAR short-term loan from a consortium of banks comes due by the end of July, so does a 3.5 billion ZAR financing package from the Development Bank of Southern Africa, 4 billion ZAR are required for retrenchments…
Trucking platform enables slot allocation planning
… and much more, assures Raoul Paul, CEO and founder of Cargohub, who unveiled a collaborative decision making (CDM) platform allowing stakeholders to share relevant data and information to speed up and fine-tune processes between trucking companies and ground handling agents. It allows handlers to allocate slots, and trucking companies to manage their drivers' schedules with the aim of eliminating unnecessary waiting times and delays, the press release states.
The platform offers users a further benefit: Even after the loading and departure of a vehicle, a handling agent can continue to track the shipment in real-time, whereas normally agents lose visibility of shipments once they have left the warehouse or freight terminal. The data can be shared, thus helping to accurately predict and track the complete cargo process.
Truck jams at airports were a major cause of delays in pre Covid-19 times when cargo quantities were steadily increasing, upping costs and environmental pollution. “This problem of congestion on the forefront is frequently discussed; one possibility being not allowing trucks to enter the handling agent’s site before registration and approval has been completed. Drivers are informed via the CDM platform if their goods are ready for loading and which gate is assigned thereto. Not only does this improve the fluidity on the site, but the driver can follow instructions without the intervention of his company’s management,” CEO Paul states.
The CDM platform was launched initially in the Netherlands but Cargohub expects the tool to expand throughout Europe and beyond. Pilots are AirBridgeCargo, Menzies World Cargo, Swissport, dnata, Jan de Rijk, and Fast Forward Freight. The Air Cargo Netherlands supports its use and spread.
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