Just two years old and already a key player in the vaccine rollout
IAG Cargo is well set up for the Covid-19 vaccine logistics challenge. On 25FEB21, a week after signing UNICEF’s Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative, it celebrated the two-year anniversary of its multi-million-euro, state-of-the-art pharmaceutical center in Madrid, Spain. Together with Heathrow and Dublin, Madrid acts as one of IAG Cargo’s three Constant Climate specialist hubs, linking 100 specialist stations across the globe. Of the more than a million Covid-19 vaccines that have already passed through the IAG Cargo network, much was handled at Madrid: 30 Covid-19 vaccine shipments to date, out of over 20,000 pharma consignments since the hub opened in 2019 – many of these also vaccines for other diseases such polio, diphtheria, and measles, intended for various destinations across Latin America, the USA, and Europe. The recent Covid-19 shipments traveled on board Iberia to the Canary and Balearic Islands, Dominican Republic, and El Salvador.
Fernando Terol Armas, Director of Spanish Hub and Operations at IAG Cargo, commented: “Our Madrid pharmaceutical facility is the largest in Southern Europe and with its strategic location it will continue to play a key part in the global roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines alongside our two other GDP certified hubs in Dublin and London Heathrow.”
Jesús López Solás, Commercial Director of Iberia, added: “In the past two years Iberia and IAG Cargo have achieved much together, delivering life-saving vaccines and medicines via IAG Cargo's specialist pharmaceutical center in Madrid. Iberia provides a network of flights, connecting Southern Europe with the rest of the world, whilst IAG Cargo provides the cargo expertise to ensure these delicate temperature-sensitive products are expertly handled.”
IAG recently published its 2020 results unsurprisingly massively impacted by the pandemic as capacity decreased by 66.5%. Luis Gallego, IAG’s Chief Executive Officer, announced: “In 2020, we’re reporting an operating loss of €4,365 million before exceptional items compared to an operating profit of €3,285 million in 2019. Total operating losses including exceptional items relating to fuel and currency hedges, early fleet retirement plus restructuring costs came to €7,426 million” and went on to thank all employees for the “extraordinary effort across our business,” pointing out that “IAG Cargo’s turnover increased by almost €200 million to €1.3 billion. Cargo helped to make longhaul passenger flights viable. In addition, we operated 4,003 cargo-only flights in the year.”
cargo-partner goes West with the integration of Transcargo
Since 16FEB21, the Dutch logistics provider Transcargo (established 1988 to provide transport, distribution, warehousing, and value-added services) has joined cargo-partner’s portfolio, after collaborating since MAY20, and will now be gradually integrated into the group by cargo-partner Network B.V., which was founded in the Netherlands in 2006. The acquisition marks a significant milestone in the cargo-partner group’s history as its CEO, Stefan Krauter, declared: “This is the first complete acquisition in cargo-partner history, and it will strongly support our strategic objectives to expand our end-to-end capabilities and our Western European business. Following the positive development of our activities in the Benelux region, including the representations at Liège airport, and in Roermond which we opened last year, this is the next step in our ongoing expansion.” The office and 17,000 m² warehouse location in Roermond is perfectly located to serve customers in nearby Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany, with a 250 km catchment area radius of 10 million people. It will serve as a West European regional and international distribution center with connections twice a week to the cargo-partner hub in Vienna, Austria, and beyond.
The acquisition doubles cargo-partner’s presence in the Netherlands to more than 50 employees spread over three locations: Rotterdam, Schiphol, and Roermond. Stefan Krauter adds: “As we move forward with the integration process, our primary focus is to retain all Transcargo customers and ensure seamless high-quality service, complemented by the added service portfolio which cargo-partner has to offer. Likewise, our own customer relationships will benefit from an expanded service range, growth of expertise and increased operational excellence. cargo-partner and Transcargo will continuously strive to offer our customers the best end-to-end solutions across Europe.”
Silk Way West joining “mission of the century”
Silk Way West Airlines (established 2012, with a fleet of 15 Boeing 747-8F and Boeing 747-400F), is the latest airline to announce its readiness to participate in the global Covid-19 vaccination logistics challenge, quoting IATA’s Director General and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac, in its press statement: "Safely delivering COVID-19 vaccines will be the mission of the century for the global air cargo industry." The cargo airline declares that it “has prepared thoroughly in recent months” and is now ready “to take a leading role in the ‘Mission of the Century.” Whether it will also join UNICEF’s Humanitarian Air Freight Initiative is not stated, though it can look back on over 100 charter PPE flights over the pandemic, and “has now signed a number of ambitious contracts in preparation for the delivery of temperature-sensitive cargo. To ensure delivery of our life-saving freight, supplies are safely delivered to specially equipped warehouses, and are handled by personnel specifically trained for these unique conditions.” The preparation also included the modernization of the airline’s cargo hub at Heydar Aliyev International Airport, Baku, ensuring that it has high-tech logistics technologies and facilities to handle temperature-sensitive cargo.
“We hope that the promptness of the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccines will contribute to the early return to a normal daily life for people all over the world,” said Aydin Huseynov, Silk Way West Airlines Vice President Global Cargo Logistics. “I can confidently say that Silk Way West Airlines is fully ready to meet the global challenge of large-scale transportation of vaccines, as well as other types of cargo that require special temperature control. At the same time, internal procedures are being adapted in accordance with the GDP (Good Distribution Practice) standard, which is based on principles adopted by the EU and recommended by the World Health Organization,” the Vice President emphasized.
Kale Logistics Solutions launches next gen AI truck slot steering tool
Since 24FEB21, Kale Logistics Solutions’ Airport Cargo Community System (ACS) contains the next generation version of its Truck Slot Management tool which uses Artificial Intelligence to avoid truck congestion at airports across North America and other large airports of the world. The AI system helps ground handlers, freight forwarders, and trucking companies to improve their truck coordination to best reduce waiting times, better steer peaks, and avoid idle times as much as possible – all serious problems that otherwise can lead to expensive delays if not efficiently managed. The current pandemic situation which has led to an upsurge in cargo at many airports has also exacerbated these issues and highlighted local process inefficiencies. Kale’s next gen AI solution enables the coordination of all freight handling processes across the various stakeholders, using an online slot booking application streamlining the truck flow from and to the airport. Slots and statuses (available, reserved) are shown in an online calendar and can be managed according to handling capacities. Resource planning can be arranged around the incoming and outgoing freight flows, and truck drivers use mobile apps powered by Geo-fencing technology, to check-in and check-out.
Donna Mullins, Vice President of Kale Info Solutions (USA) said, "As we all rise to a new normal, the importance of technology adoption is surging. Therefore, the need for cargo community systems, cargo handling systems, and other community-based solutions are gaining traction. Truck Slot management module in Kale's ACS is a unique mechanism to overcome truck congestion outside airports and eventually operational delays."
Talking about ACS, Amar More, CEO of Kale Logistics Solutions said, "ACS by Kale is a unique solution specially crafted for all air cargo stakeholders. Our Next Generation ACS has been empowering the airport communities across North America, South America, Europe, Middle East, and Asia and helping the communities cope up with several issues like truck congestion, paperwork, supply chain opaqueness, security etc. It has helped the airports significantly enhance their throughput with the existing infrastructure. We are working closely with the North American air freight communities & airports to leverage the deep tech interventions like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning in solving their problems."
Plus Ultra extends contract with Jettainer
On 23FEB21, the Spanish airline, Plus Ultra Líneas Aéreas, signed up to another five years with Jettainer, having begun its partnership in 2016, the year that the airline first took off. The Madrid-based airline operates a fleet of four A340s and services Lima, Caracas, Quito, and Guayaquil in South America as scheduled flights out of Madrid and Tenerife, as well as specializing in charter flights and ACMI charter flights where it provides its aircraft and crew for other airlines to use in their own name. Outsourcing the management of its ULDs to Jettainer has served the airline well, in particular during the chaotic pandemic period, and allows it to focus completely on cargo sales and flight operations.
Jettainer is strategically also geared to also providing efficient ULD management service solutions to new airlines and has proven its worth during the crisis. “A solid and long partnership is important to us, even more in times of crisis. We stand at Plus Ultra’s side with Jettainer’s efficient ULD management services and leading IT solutions,” Thomas Sonntag, Jettainer’s Managing Director, stated.
“The fact that Jettainer is procuring, managing, and maintaining ULDs for us creates efficient infrastructure on the ground that we could not create better ourselves. We can always count on our partner, including during the pandemic. The partnership with Jettainer continues to pave the way for our airline's expansion in the future, despite the challenges associated with the coronavirus,” Roberto Roselli, CEO of Plus Ultra Líneas Aéreas added.
SpiceJet now linking Singapore and India
20FEB21 saw India's largest cargo airline, SpiceJet, carry out the first of its twice-weekly, scheduled freighter services between Singapore and India: setting off from Chennai, India to land at 11:15 in Singapore’s Changi Airport. The cargo flights that will link Bangalore, Chennai, and Mumbai with Singapore from now on, are operated using a B737F by SpiceXpress, SpiceJet’s cargo subsidiary which was incepted in SEP18 and has a fleet of 19 freighters, in total. SpiceJet is the fifth cargo airline to link Singapore and India, joining Emirates, IndiGo, Singapore Airlines, and SriLankan Airlines, which carried out cargo-only passenger flights between India and Singapore last year, serving Singapore’s sixth largest cargo market, totally 75,000 in 2020. SpiceXpress’ scheduled services provide much-needed capacities in the current situation which is still struggling from the huge drop in belly capacities due to passenger flight schedule restrictions. Last year, SpiceJet already carried out more than 230 chartered cargo flights on the route between APR20 and DEC20, deploying a mix of freighter and cargo-only passenger flights, keeping supply chains running and ferrying urgent humanitarian goods and medical supplies.
Mr Lim Ching Kiat, CAG's Managing Director of Air Hub Development said, “CAG has been engaging SpiceJet for several years to mount scheduled services to Singapore, hence we are pleased to welcome SpiceJet to Changi's family of airlines. In these challenging times when air cargo capacity is constrained, the introduction of SpiceJet's freighter service is much welcomed. The additional capacity helps support the transportation of essential goods such as medical and food supplies between the two countries.”
Mr Sanjiv Gupta, SpiceXpress's CEO said, “We are much delighted to commence our scheduled freighter operations to Singapore. This development would strengthen air trades between the two countries by providing faster and seamless logistics solutions. In addition, this strategic move would help SpiceXpress build its network in South East Asia. Singapore is also well-positioned as a springboard for SpiceXpress into other markets such as Europe and Australia.”
Saudia Cargo & Cainiao ink collaboration agreement
Both companies announced operating 5 weekly cargo flights connecting Hong Kong with Liege in Belgium via Riyadh deploying B777F aircraft. In a release, they speak of a “new sky bridge” between Asia and Europe to cater to the high demand on e-commerce, which lately became the world’s No.1 shopping preference. The first flight will take off tomorrow (01MAR21).
“Both our sellers and customers from China, Saudi Arabia and Europe will benefit from the new flights that will decrease delivery time for their parcels. Expanding our logistics network into new regions will also help us in building efficient global exports network. This new route will be one of the key elements to create seamless logistics and increase synergy between different regions,” comments William Xiong, Cainiao's Chief Strategist and General Manager of Export Logistics.
CEO Omar Hariri of Saudia Cargo noted: “This agreement is part of our framework to transform the Kingdom into an open gate for world trade and a bridge connecting East and West by leveraging its strategic location in the center of the world. Other promising partnerships will be coming up in the near future to reinforce logistic operations of Alibaba in both continents.”
The executive went on to say that the global pandemic has revealed the urging need for cargo services due to the rapidly growing demand on online shopping. “We are working closely with our worldwide partners to execute the most effective logistic solutions to guarantee a constant flow of cargo with punctual delivery,” Mr. Hariri said.
Saudia Cargo operates a fleet of 7 long-haul freighter aircraft, consisting of 4 Boeing 777 and 3 Boeing 747-400F.
Antonov Airlines shifts a 54-ton rotor from Ghana to India and back
When your 54-ton power generation rotor at home in Ghana requires urgent repairs, then Antonov Airlines with its AN-124 power freighter is your answer in getting it over to India for service. Not just because the aircraft can shift the weight, but also because of the expertise and equipment required to plan and handle such a huge and heavy consignment. Working together with Rhenus Projects Logistics USA, which provided the external cranes needed during loading and unloading, Antonov Airlines transported the rotor measuring 10.5 m in length, 3.89 m in width, and 4.13 m in height, from Accra, Ghana, to Mumbai, India, and back again.
“This transport operation required well-coordinated preparation and actions from both partners to fly such outsized and heavy cargo safely,” said Vladyslav Ishchuk, Commercial Executive, Antonov Airlines. “Antonov Airlines showcased its flexibility by providing the AN-124 aircraft on the required dates during an extremely busy period for the customer to minimize any disruption that could have been faced.”
“Rhenus Project Logistics USA and Antonov Airlines have an association going back over 15 years, which has involved multiple charter performances for mutual clients and is a testimony to the strength and expertise members of THLG bring to their clients,” said Ritesh Nair, Global Sales Director at Rhenus Project Logistics USA.
Salazar is ICAO’s new Secretary General in spe
Though not due to take up position until 01AUG21, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) announced on 25FEB21 that Columbian national, Juan Carlos Salazar, will be the new Secretary General of the 36-State governing body. The ICAO Council appointed him for a three-year term, starting 01AUG21, taking over from Dr. Fang Liu of China, who has held the position for two consecutive terms since 2015. Multi-lingual (Spanish, English, French, Arabic) Salazar studied public administration and air and space law, and looks back on over 26 years of experience in the fields of aviation, management, and public policy at national, regional, and international levels. “Since January 2018, Mr. Salazar has been serving as Director General of Civil Aviation of Colombia at Aerocivil, a complex civil aviation organization with more than 3,100 employees and 12 trade unions. He is in charge of a network of 72 public airports and of the sole air navigation service provider in a country that serves as a key hub for air routes in Latin America. He has also served as Chief Executive Officer of the Colombian Civil Aviation Organization and as Senior Advisor to the Civil Aviation Authority of the United Arab Emirates,” the press release elaborates.
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