Urging the European Commission to agree slot waiver extension
As aviation looks with trepidation towards the winter schedule as experts predict the colder months will give rise to an increase in Covid-19 cases, and some countries already appear to be entering a second wave, European airlines and airports have banded together to push for an extension of the waiver of the “use-it-or-lose-it” slot rule for the duration of the 2020-2021 winter season. ACI EUROPE, Airlines for Europe (A4E), Airlines International Representation in Europe (AIRE), and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have been working together with European Association of Slot Coordinators (EUACA) to establish workable solutions, as passenger demand remains sluggish. The onus is now on the European Commission to soon formalize the extension of the slots waiver and clarify how the conditions will be implemented, so that preparations can be made for the upcoming winter season.
“Decisions must be made now to enable the timely return of slots for the winter season once the waiver is granted. This will give airports and airlines certainty in planning their schedules and operations and ensure that passengers know what to expect in the tough months ahead. Further delays will paralyze the winter planning process and add millions in costs for all parties,” said Olivier Jankovec, Director General, ACI EUROPE.
“Restoring passenger confidence is a top priority for the entire aviation sector and indeed the European economy. Given the constantly changing government restrictions, it is vital that the upcoming winter schedules provide passengers with as much predictability as possible,” said Thomas Reynaert, Managing Director, A4E.
“Only a full-season slots waiver will ensure that the flying of empty planes is avoided and enable flights to be operated in the most sustainable way possible. Airlines and airports in Europe stand ready to apply the agreed conditions as soon as the full-season waiver is granted and call on the European Commission to endorse this agreement and authorize the waiver immediately,” said Rafael Schvartzman, IATA Regional Vice President for Europe.
David Bellon succeeds Steven Polmans at Air Cargo Belgium
On 03SEP20, the Air Cargo Belgium Board of Directors agreed on Steven Polmans’ successor as Chairman when he steps down on 15NOV20 after four years, having held the position since the start of ACB. It announced the name of its current Vice Chairman and Forwarding Cluster representative: David Bellon. Over the past 15 years, David Bellon has been with DHL Global Forwarding Belgium, and his present role there is Airfreight Product Station Manager in Brussels. He also runs his own training and consulting agency and is specialized in logistics and supply chain management.
"I am honored having received the confidence from the Board of Directors to become chairman of our organization. I look forward to continuing to serve ACB in this new role and thank Steven Polmans for the fantastic work done so far. Let us continue on this great journey of digitization and community approach!"
The ACB announced on LinkedIn: “We are excited to welcome David in his new role of Chairman. In the past, he has already been very active as Vice Chairman in the Executive Committee and as representative in the Forwarder Cluster and he has always been very engaged within our organization and BRUcargo. We look forward to keep working together with him!”
Polar Air Cargo connects Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea
Scott Tasker, General Manager Aeronautical Commercial at Auckland Airport is delighted with the latest connection to New Zealand, given that cargo capacity has been scarce these past months. Auckland Airport handles over 90% of international air cargo coming into New Zealand, yet while international air freight demand has declined 19% year-on-year for July 2020, the total international freight capacity at Auckland Airport fell 46% in July 2020, similar to previous months. He explained: “With the borders closed to everyone except returning New Zealanders and departing travelers, freight has really settled into a pattern of lower available capacity and high utilization of available space. The steep reduction in air connectivity typically provided by passenger aircraft, which prior to the pandemic supplied 80% of available cargo capacity in their belly-holds, is contributing to this capacity shortfall. Having Polar adds a new option for New Zealand air deliveries and freight forwarders, particularly in the express segment,” and pointed out that the Atlas Air Worldwide subsidiary is now the sixth airline operating scheduled international freighter services to and from Auckland Airport, however the first dedicated Boeing 747-8F freighter link offering 133 tons of capacity each week between Auckland Airport and Seoul Incheon Airport. “It’s a significant vote of confidence to have a new operator flying into Auckland Airport and providing some much-needed cargo capacity. This freighter service to Seoul Incheon Airport provided by Polar Air Cargo also opens up additional connectivity options to and from key Asian markets beyond South Korea,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of Polar Air Cargo Worldwide, its EVP & Chief Operating Officer, Lars Winkelbauer, said: “With the continued growth of e-commerce, the resulting air cargo demand, and shortage of cargo belly space on passenger aircraft, freight forwarders rely more than ever on freighter aircraft to move their goods. Adding the new air route through Auckland will help drive the growth and export opportunities for our customers by connecting them in key markets in Asia and North America.”
Beijing is site of latest Envirotainer station
01SEP20 saw the opening of a new station in the Envirotainer e-technology network – namely Beijing (PEK) in China. It is the 35th station in the Envirotainer network and will carry both the RKN e1 and RAP e2 in preparation for the Covid-19 supply chain requirements, and as a support to the Chinese pharmaceuticals export market. Particularly the RAP e2 is hailed by the company as “the most environmentally friendly temperature-controlled air cargo container available in the market. Delivering pharmaceuticals using the Envirotainer RAP e2 emits 0.9kg CO2e per vial shipped,” and claimed to be “an extremely cost efficient and high-performing solution compared to other active and passive alternatives.”
Head of Sales APAC at Envirotainer, Suat Toh explained the location choice: “The Beijing area is a growing pharmaceutical hub for all types of temperature-sensitive cargo. We are currently supporting our Beijing based customers via our station in Shanghai. With the new station we want to create a significantly better customer experience for our Beijing area customers by reducing the need for trucking units between regions. At the same time, we also extend the overall capacity in the greater APAC region to meet the rising demand for a secure and cost-efficient proven solution, especially in light of the ongoing pandemic.”
Eddy Cojulun, Chief Sales Officer at Envirotainer, underlined the upcoming challenge: “Looking ahead there are many uncertainties related to COVID-19 vaccines shipments. As an industry, we need to ensure that we have a solid temperature-controlled air freight supply-chain to secure that the vaccines are delivered safely. Once a vaccine becomes available, we know it will require temperature-controlled air freight and a global distribution in very large quantities. We expect that our investment in the Beijing station will further support a fast and secure delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to the people that need them, wherever they are in the world.”
Swapping new Dreamliners for 777-Freighters
Given its 60% increase in air cargo in the past three months, pitted against a 63.5% drop in passenger revenues in the first half-year, Taiwan-based EVA Air has apparently convinced Boeing to allow it to change seven of its twenty 787-10 on-order Dreamliners to three 777F cargo and four 787-9 aircraft, instead, it announced on 31AUG20. A wise move, given that passenger demand is unlikely to recover to somewhere near 2019 levels before 2024. EVA Air therefore not only sets itself up to benefit from the cargo situation in the interim, it also saves money with the replacement, given that the older Dreamliner version is less costly. Sources estimate around USD 112 million saved of the original 20 787-10 Dreamliner order which totaled circa USD 7 billion. The 787-9 version is not only less expensive, it apparently also has a better cruising range than its successor, setting the airline up to better service long-haul flights to the U.S. eventually.
Xwing’s cargo caravan takes off
Four years of development and tests are now coming to fruition. Xwing recently declared itself to be the first company to succeed in operating an autonomous cargo flight using a Cessna 208B Grand Caravan: The plane starts its engine, taxies, takes off, navigates, lands, taxies again, and shuts down entirely on its own (or with minimum human intervention). The San Francisco-based company is now working with the FAA to certify a fleet of Cessna 208B Grand Caravan utility planes for autonomous short-haul, regional cargo flights. It stated that over 70 hours of engine time for ground and flight tests have been carried out since JUL20, and over 40 hours of automated flight time. The aircraft have been retrofitted with “onboard flight control systems that allow the aircraft to navigate, take off and land autonomously, ensuring more cost-effective operations for logistic companies,” and are designed to be supervised by remote operators who work with air traffic controllers to ensure safety throughout the flight. An on-board pilot is optional. Completed tests include simulation runs, software system tests, flight tests with low and high-speed ground taxi tests, takeoffs, navigation in the airspace, detect-and-avoid tests, and landings.
Hailed as the “future of aviation”, given the pre-Covid-19 decline in pilot numbers in the USA, the 34-year-old aircraft version capable of carrying 1,814 kg of cargo could soon become the first autonomous cargo fleet for Xwing, which has already been accorded a Part 135 Air Carrier certificate and intends to commence with commercial cargo flight operations in the next few months. “We believe the path to full autonomy begins with the air cargo market, and involves remote operators supervising fleets of unmanned aircraft,” Xwing founder and CEO Marc Piette said in a statement. Though it is looking to operate its own fleet, Xwing is also open to sharing its technology with partners or through licensing, and believes that its business model can generate 20-30% cost savings in air cargo transportation.
ACL Airshop to handle and repair Sonoco’s Pegasus ULD
Sonoco ThermoSafe and ACL Airshop signed a global agreement on 28AUG20 which stipulates that ACL Airshop will handle and maintain Sonoco ThermoSafe’s passive bulk temperature-controlled container, Pegasus ULD. The Pegasus ULD, specifically developed for the pharma industry, offers real-time, cloud-based data on payload and ambient temperature. Sonoco ThermoSafe recently also developed a vendor-neutral blockchain platform, PharmaPortal, for improved transparency and traceability across the pharmaceutical supply chain, as a further commitment to quality pharma freight transport solutions.
ACL Airshop, which already services cargo equipment and provides logistics solutions for over 200 airlines and air cargo carriers, has been selected to provide pre-conditioning, handling, and repair services at key international pharma import and export air cargo facilities. Wes Tucker, ACL Airshop Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer commented: “This partnership will enhance our services array for our airlines and air cargo customers around the globe, and we are pleased to provide our customers with an innovative solution for the transportation of vital and life-saving pharmaceutical products.”
Christopher Day, Sonoco ThermoSafe Marketing and Innovation Director added: “We are delighted to partner with a high-quality and service-oriented ULD handling and repair specialist such as ACL Airshop, with its impressive global network. This agreement accelerates the adoption of the Pegasus ULD across the worldwide air freight marketplace during the world’s most dire need for pharmaceutical distribution.”
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