Air Belgium steps into the cargo business
Leisure carrier Air Belgium, based at Brussels-Charleroi Airport (CRL), intends to operate freighter aircraft, thus introducing an additional business field. Appropriate plans were confirmed by the airline to the media on Saturday (30JAN21) with the first 2 all-cargo aircraft expected to arrive already in MAR21. They will be based at Liège Airport, along with 4 more freighters that are to be added to the fleet by the end of this year. Although it was left open as to which freighter models ABB (ICAO Code) is looking at, much speaks for the Airbus A330F. This particular variant would complement the existing fleet of 4 A340-300 passenger jetliners flying for ABB, but which have been taken out of service until MAR21 due to the pandemic induced lack of travelers.
For Air Belgium CEO, Niky Terzakis, the move resembles a return to his former business as Managing Director of TNT Airways which he left in 2016 when it was taken over by FedEx. The airline and cargo veteran has over 30 years of experience in the freight industry. Coming from the EMS International Post Corporation, he moved to TNT Express, where he was responsible for the carrier’s operational business while organizing TNT’s “Super Hub” project at Liège Airport. Terzakis was also instrumental in TNT's move from Cologne-Bonn to Liège, which took place in 1998, due to unrestricted night flight guarantees at LGG, and generous subsidies paid by the regional Walloon government.
Jettainer provides plug&fly solution for smaller airlines
Lufthansa Cargo’s ULD Management subsidiary, Jettainer, rolled out its “plug&fly” solution on 26JAN21, thus opening up the ULD service solution to smaller and mid-sized airlines. “plug&fly takes the hassle out of ULD management for the customer. By focusing on the core service, it offers customers a quick, easy, and transparent way to realize cost advantages," Jettainer’s Managing Director, Thomas Sonntag, stated. Those cost advantages can be as much as 15% since smaller and mid-sized airlines now also have the opportunity of optimizing their ULD fleet by outsourcing it to Jettainer.
As a global leader in ULD management, Jettainer already steers around 100,000 ULDs in 500 international destinations, taking responsibility not just for the placing of the ULDs, but also their repair and maintenance, all the way through to providing inhouse controllers if customers request this. Recognizing a market niche for smaller airlines with ULD fleets of less than 2,000 units that would benefit from a less comprehensive service solution, Jettainer came up with “plug&fly”. This industry-first is a basic version of its full-service package and offers a fixed price solution based on the number of units in the fleet. “plug&fly” allows for seamless, quick implementation, so that airlines can begin optimizing their fleets right away using Jettainer’s integrated IT solution which builds on artificial intelligence and ensures real-time ULD availability and inventories. Thus, smaller airlines no longer require complex, costly, and less efficient inhouse IT to coordinate their fleets. Whilst the ULDs remain their property, by outsourcing their fleet management, they benefit from the flexibility that Jettainer’s large network provides.
“Big carriers are not the only ones who get to enjoy optimized ULD fleets and the smart global management services provided by Jettainer’s industry experts. Many other airlines with fleets of up to 2,000 ULDs can now reap the rewards too. To arrive at this destination, we had to take a separate, more streamlined approach that we are now rolling out with plug&fly,” Sonntag explained.
Gebrüder Weiss puts sustainable hydrogen truck on road
25JAN21 saw Gebrüder Weiss take delivery of its first hydrogen truck over at its Altenrhein/Lauterach branch in Switzerland. Gebrüder Weiss, which already operates environmentally friendly road feeder variations (gas-powered trucks across Austria, Germany, and Serbia, and electric trucks around Vienna and Graz in Austria), opted for the Hyundai XCIENT Fuel Cell hydrogen model in Switzerland, since the country is investing in a network of hydrogen filling stations and is already advanced enough throughout eastern Switzerland, to merit the deployment of a commercial hydrogen vehicle. “Gebrüder Weiss is also a member of the H2 Mobility Switzerland Association, which designed and implemented the world’s first ecosystem for the practical use of hydrogen to power vehicles,” the press release states. The 26-ton Hyundai XCIENT Fuel Cell truck is powered by a 350kw electric motor driven by “green hydrogen” (water chemically reacting with oxygen). It has a range of roughly 600 km and can carry circa 25 tons of cargo. Unlike its diesel equivalents, it emits water vapor instead of pollutants, and will thus avoid up to 80 tons of CO2 emissions per year.
“The coronavirus pandemic has diverted attention away somewhat from the climate change challenge, yet the logistics sector is continuing its work with manufacturers to find alternative ways of powering vehicles. With the arrival of our first hydrogen truck, Gebrüder Weiss has once again demonstrated that it also takes a leading role when it comes to sustainable solutions. Our aim is to gain experience using this technology to help us prepare for a situation where it may see wider use,” Wolfram Senger-Weiss, CEO of Gebrüder Weiss, explained, going on to state that, “We are proud to be among the first in the world to take receipt of these vehicles. We see the H2 truck as a viable alternative to other drive technologies that exist today, and, given the right infrastructure, we intend to use it in Austria and southern Germany in the future.” Hyundai will be producing and delivering 2,000 hydrogen trucks during the course of 2021.
Rock-it Global harmonizes brands
Rock-it Cargo USA subsidiaries Rock-it Cargo (founded 1978 in Los Angeles, USA to service all kinds of live entertainment and touring events in the arts, music, sports, broadcasting industries as well as humanitarian relief, across air, sea, and road logistics) and Sound Moves (founded 1996, specialized in international freight forwarding of live event and music touring cargo, with branches in the United States and Europe) will be singing in one voice soon, given the decision to fusion the two into “Rock-it Global”. Over the course of the first quarter of 2021, the offices and vendor networks will merge, though throughout the process, Rock-it Global will focus on continued smooth operations, as Rock-it Cargo CEO & President Paul Martins underlined: “Same people, same phone numbers, same email addresses, same great experiences, it makes sense. When you've got the best operators in the world functioning in two different silos, you need to bring that power together to create an unbeatable organization that can provide tailored solutions for critical projects anywhere in the world, delivering for our customers the ultimate peace of mind.” The new company logo, website and management team will be unveiled in late Spring.
The final decision for the merger came about during the pandemic, David Bernstein, Non-Executive Chairman of the Board of Rock-it Cargo Holdings, explained: “We've reorganized Rock-it in a way that we believe will provide for the best customer experience and expertise available in global entertainment logistics. The time our people have been off the road has allowed us to internally assess our strengths and ask how we could be stronger and more prepared when our clients signaled it would be time to get back out. This move positions us for what lies ahead.” Paul Martin added: “We devoted significant time and effort to bring this to fruition. I'm also extremely pleased that Duane Wood, founder and CEO of Sound Moves is joining the Executive Team as Chief Strategy Officer. His experience leading Sound Moves will be a remarkable asset to the new combined company as well as the entire group of companies under our umbrella.”
Silk Way West Airlines expands Japan service
From 11FEB21, Silk Way West Airlines (established 2012) will begin a twice-weekly service between Baku’s Heydar Aliyev International Airport, Azerbaijan and Tokyo Narita Airport, Japan, following a code-share agreement it signed with Nippon Cargo Airlines last week. Though Silk Way West Airlines already has weekly Japanese services running to Osaka Kansai airport since 2018, this latest partnership is the first time that the heart of the Silk Road is connected directly to Japan’s main international air cargo gateway. President of the Silk Way Group, Mr. Zaur Akhundov announced: “We are delighted that the new air bridge will connect our two capital cities directly for the first time in our history, and that the geographic reach of our regular flight network continues to expand and now fully covers North Asia. At the same time, we are constantly improving the air transportation infrastructure at Baku airport in order to meet the global demand for cargo services, and I can say with confidence that we are fully ready to handle any cargo, including temperature-sensitive goods.”
“The opening of this new route comes further to many years of cooperation with several partners in the region and in this regard, I would like to recognize the valuable contribution of Silk Way Group Executive Advisor Mr. Katsutoshi Tanaka, and Regional Director of Silk Way West Airlines in Japan Mr. Emre Mercan, thanks to whose combined efforts an agreement was signed between Silk Way West Airlines and Nippon Cargo Airlines. The signing of this agreement opens a new page in the history of relations between Silk Way West Airlines and our Japanese partners”, Silk Way West Airlines President Mr. Wolfgang Meier emphasized.
Astral Aviation’s new B767-200F to service UAE
From 03FEB21, Sharjah International Airport, UAE, will be welcoming Astral Aviation’s latest fleet addition: the B767-200F with a potential weekly cargo of around 80 tons of flowers and vegetables. The airline designated Sharjah International Airport as its Middle Eastern hub in DEC20, adding to its two existing hubs in Liege, Belgium and Nairobi, Kenya. The UAE location was chosen given both its strategic location in the Middle East, and its developed cargo facilities for temperature-controlled perishables, pharmaceuticals, and healthcare cargo.
At the B767’s official launch at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on 22JAN21, attended by many well-wishing and high-ranking Kenyan authorities, Astral Aviation Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr Sanjeev Gadhia, also announced that Astral would be deploying the B767-200F on its Nairobi – Johannesburg route, currently operated using a B727-200F, and thereby increasing the total cargo capacity available on its South African route to 160 tons. Furthermore, it would be used to distribute both the Covid vaccine to and within Africa, as well as other high-priority humanitarian cargo. Given JKIA’s 9,000m² of temperature-controlled facilities and its capacity of 1.2 million tons, the airport is well set up to serve as a vaccine hub, and distribution is expected soon. Speaking at the launch, Mr James Macharia, Cabinet Secretary in the Kenyan Ministry of Transport, confirmed that the government would be investing in improving Kenya’s transport system and in modernizing and expanding aviation facilities. The airport had seen an 8% decline in cargo volumes in 2020.
MecFab and Lödige join forces
It is not often that you see Paderborn, Germany, twinned with Sydney, Australia, unless it is in a Lödige Industries press release. On 25JAN21, Lödige Industries, Germany’s leading material handling systems provider, announced that it has acquired the Australian airport plant manufacturer, MecFab Enterprises to expand its operations Down Under. MecFab has branches in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. Lödiges sees the acquisition as a logical step, given the successful cooperation the two companies have enjoyed on previous projects, such as work on dnata’s cargo terminal at Brisbane airport, where MecFab delivered the truck dock for the project. MecFab Enterprises’ expertise is in air cargo equipment: specialist maintenance of freight handling equipment, repairing and maintaining non-motorized GSE (Rolling Stock), and fabrication of various equipment for airport operations, such as access stairs and platforms, and it counts Qantas Airways, dnata Air Services and Menzies Aviation amongst its clients.
Mark Cutts and Michael Dolso, founders of MecFab Enterprises and who retain their directoral positions, commented on the take-over: “Very early on we realized the shared vision between our two companies to be best-in-class while delivering to our clients' specific needs. Both companies have reputations for excellence in our fields and joining forces will increase our ability to support Australia's air freight and express courier markets. Now that the Lödige/MecFab alliance is secured we will be able to exponentially expand our services, bringing cutting edge engineering and material handling technology exclusively to our customers.”
Philippe De Backer, CEO of Lödige Industries, points to the acquisition as being the result of a highly successful partnership: “Over the last few years we have increased our activities in the Australian market and recognized a significant area of opportunity in both air freight and express handling systems as well as automated parking. MecFab is the ideal partner to support us in realizing these opportunities.”
CargoAi’s Board is now complete with new CCO
CargoAi announced last week that Magali Beauregard would be joining the 2019-founded, fast-growing air cargo digital booking platform from 01FEB21 as its Chief Customer Officer. Her nomination completes the Board, which now consists of Matthieu Petot, Chief Executive Officer, Mathilde de Rocquigny, Chief Commercial Officer, Elena Volkova, Chief Product Officer, François-Xavier Gsell, Chief Technology Officer, and Magali Beauregard, Chief Customer Officer.
Magali Beauregard joins Singapore-based CargoAi over from Lufthansa Cargo, where she worked as the Head of Commercial Asia Pacific in its Singapore office, and prior her almost 6 years with Lufthansa Cargo, held the position of Senior Account Manager at Booking.com’s Singapore office. She thus brings experience both in digital booking platforms and in air cargo, as Matthieu Petot explains: “To head the customer department at CargoAi, we needed someone who had a highly pragmatic vision of customer needs. With the combination of her experience of SAAS platforms and her total understanding of air cargo, Magali fits the bill perfectly. A real achiever who has genuine passion for the industry, we couldn't hope for anyone better placed to design the best-in-class customer-based product and customer journey we need.”
Magali Beauregard outlines her fascination for the new platform: “CargoAi has very quickly established itself as a major player in the digitalization of the air cargo industry thanks to its unique approach. The customer experience is central at CargoAi, allowing us to improve digital solutions designed for airlines, freight forwarders and GSAs. I can't wait to join this talented team and to help develop the best solutions for our clients.”
PayCargo’s e-vangelical addition to the Board
“Michael has been described by many as the 'e'vangelist for the movement to move to full electronic documents in air transport. He shares PayCargo's digital vision, and will bring invaluable experience to our Board,” Eduardo Del Riego, Global Chief Executive Officer of PayCargo, explains the “e” in “evangelical”. “We continue to strengthen our management team as we look to further growth and development over the coming months.” Michael White is the latest addition to PayCargo’s Board, which welcomed two new Vice Presidents, Marta E Ramirez, and Ken Nieze, in DEC20. Having been accorded USD35 million from global venture capital and private equity firm Insight Partners to expand the global adoption of its electronic payments network and accelerate investments in its market-leading technology, PayCargo’s latest Board member brings not only a focus on digitization, but also security in air cargo, and looks back on a varied career spanning four decades, across aviation, logistics, and government positions and committees. His 25 years in air cargo include posts at Frontier Airlines, United Airlines, Cargo Service Center, the Air Transport Association, SkyLink USA, Cargo Network Services, and most recently as the Founder and President of Trade Network Consultants LLC.
Michael White’s statement on being appointed to the PayCargo Board: “I am looking forward to being a board member of PayCargo, a company that has improved the efficiencies of companies in the logistics sector. During the past few years there has been a move towards digital solutions by the transport industry and PayCargo is a leader in interfacing digital financial capabilities that are needed by many companies. My goal as a member of the board is to bring my 40+ years' experience in aviation, logistics and government to help guide the company to be able to expand and look for other opportunities in the future.”
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