42,640 passengers on board an ATRAN Airlines B737
Those 42,640 passengers were one-day-old chicks traveling from Spain to Russia on board of an ATRAN Airlines B737-800BCF. It was a premier for the airline, being ATRAN’s first European live animal (AVI) shipment since being awarded the European AVI certification earlier in 2021. The 75-year-old airline which now has a fleet of 7 B737s (the B737-800BCF in question being its latest addition), became part of the Volga-Dnepr Group in 2011, and the carrier was aided in this project by the Group’s AirBridgeCargo Airlines' team, which is well-versed in AVI transports. The 533 boxes, weighing a total of 2.2 tons, were carried in support of a local agricultural program.
Steven Frederix, Live Animal Transportation Manager Europe, AirBridgeCargo Airlines, outlined: “Following ATRAN's successful European AVI certification earlier this year and receipt of a Type 2 Transport certificate which allows the company to deliver live animals to, from and across Europe, the ATRAN team of logistics practitioners has organized a dedicated flight containing 42,640 one-day-old chicks. The delicate animals were handled and transported in accordance with IATA LAR (Live Animals Regulations) and European Council 01/2005 regulations maintaining a 24-26 C in-flight ambient environment at all times in order to ensure animals' welfare”.
Vasiliy Zhukov, Commercial Director of ATRAN Airlines, stated: “We have been approaching the AVI market for a long time, seeing the demand and customers' interests in B737 high-quality services. After implementation of our internal road map which covered certification, personnel training, and expansion of the fleet, we are now ready to offer specialist live-animals transportation services for our customers to and from Europe”.
Flying helicopters to help fight the fires
The news has been full of dreadful images of the raging fires not only in many parts of Southern Europe since the beginning of August. The Euboea, Peloponnese, and Attica regions of Greece, alone, have seen an area spanning more than 287,000 acres impacted. Firefighters from across the world have traveled to help put them out, including the Australian helicopter operator, McDermott Aviation Heli-Lift Australia, which transferred its helicopters and crew to assist in emergency response and fire suppression operations. Time is of the essence in these cases, and this led to a record-time charter operation in order to get the four Bell 214B helicopters from Australia to Greece. Chapman Freeborn Australia chartered an Antonov AN124 aircraft for this purpose. Any operation using the huge Antonov generally takes around 10 days to prepare, yet the dedication and cooperation between all the involved teams, including Chapman Freeborn, Volga-Dnepr Airlines, McDermott Aviation, the airports, handling agents, freight forwarders, and government authorities, meant that the preparation time of the cargo and aircraft took just 72 hours.
“Within less than 24 hours of receiving the request, preparation had begun, and just two days after that, loading commenced onto the AN124s at Wellcamp and Perth. Permits and documentations can take several days to receive, however thanks to the expertise and teamwork of everyone involved, the helicopters arrived at their destination in Athens less than one week after the initial request came in,” the press release details.
Not only was the charter carried out so quickly, it was also the first time that four helicopters were ever transported in Volga-Dnepr’s AN124 in a single operation. The prompt arrival in Athens was thanks to the expertise of everyone involved in the intricate planning, preparation, loading, unloading, and all necessary documentation and processes. Chapman Freeborn has decades of experience and expertise in arranging humanitarian crisis response charters, be they to transport vaccines, medication, food, mobile hospitals, or – as in this case - helicopters.
More P2F conversion news from IAI
Just a week after announcing a third PCF location in Ethiopia, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) are back in the news again, illustrating the huge demand for freighter conversions, in particular for wide-body freighter aircraft with long-haul capacity, as cargo capacities remain critical. The latest announcement is its agreement with Etihad Engineering to provide passenger to B777-300 freighter conversions. Together with GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS), IAI launched its Boeing 777-300ERSF in 2019. This P2F conversion program was also known as “The Big Twin” due to it being the largest-ever twin-engine freighter. And it is this program that will now be carried out together with the Middle East’s largest commercial aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) services provider, UAE-based Etihad Engineering. In the initial stage of the partnership, Etihad Engineering will facilitate towards two conversion lines accommodating multiple aircraft conversions per year. The strategic partnership with Israel Aerospace Industries signed last week is a significant step that would have been unthinkable just a few years previously. Boaz Levy, President & CEO, Israel Aerospace Industries, explained: “The Abraham Accords have given IAI the opportunity to expand its global activity to the Gulf region. Establishing the conversion site in partnership with Etihad Engineering is a testament to IAI’s strong ties with the UAE and strengthens its foothold in the region. I am confident that this agreement will lead to many more partnerships with local companies in the Gulf States, which will grow our business in the region.”
Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, pointed to the sustainability of the aircraft type: “The Boeing 777-300ERSF is not only extremely attractive to customers, but is a technological breakthrough given that it is the first in its size category to offer extensive cargo solutions. Not only do we see the demand, but we view it as a greener, more profitable, highly innovative solution for our airline customers, and an excellent way to drive value for our business.” Abdul Khaliq Saeed, Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Engineering, commented: “We are delighted to announce our partnership with IAI, which maximizes the potential of our highly skilled workforce, and reinforces Etihad Engineering’s position as a center of excellence in Abu Dhabi, in line with Abu Dhabi’s economic vision 2030. Our commitment to the P2F program demonstrates our confidence in the ability of IAI to deliver long-term value enhancement of the B777-300ER’s in the global fleet.”
Hellmann UK to alleviate UK customs hell
When Brexit came into effect with the first note of Auld Lang Syne sounding in New Year’s Day this year, an avalanche of customs paperwork and chaos was released for all dealings between the UK and the European Union. Hellmann had already prepared for this by significantly increasing its customs teams and activities. It has now gone one step further and is introducing Customs Brokerage as a regular product, to offer its UK road transport customers smoother services in UK imports and exports. Hellmann UK's land transport division will be offering this service as a regular product, thus providing the same special land transport service to customers across the UK, as Hellmann has already been providing for other European countries for quite some time. The company is also well-versed in Customs Brokerage for air and ocean freight, where it has long been a standard service and an important pillar of the Hellmann service portfolio, particularly in North America. Hellmann offers licensed customs brokers and entry writers who ensure that shipments are cleared for import and export, efficiently and as per international trade regulations.
“With more than 65 customs experts at the Hellmann locations in Dover, Lichfield and Glasgow, Hellmann can keep its promise. The friendly and experienced specialists provide expert advice on all customs and VAT-related issues and ensure that compliance with all regulations has top priority,” the press release promises, and points out that the brokerage service is not only available to shippers whose shipments Hellmann also physically moves, but also in the scope of a 4PL service provider for customers whose shipments are driven by another forwarder.
“By establishing Customs Brokerage as a stand-alone product, we can ensure the desired flexibility for our customers in their choice of forwarder. At the same time, with the combination of transport service and customs brokerage, we are fomenting an unbeatable overall package that is currently hard to beat in terms of efficiency and reliability,” Lee Costello, Product Manager, Hellmann UK, underlined.
WFS gains Vietnam Airlines handling contract in AMS
“We’re thrilled to expand our partnership with Vietnam Airlines, after being chosen as their cargo handler at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol,” Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) announced on LinkedIn. Vietnam Airlines flies into Amsterdam twice a week, operating an A350-900 passenger freighter, and WFS will provide full cargo handling services as the airline’s new cargo handling partner, ensuring smooth links between freight forwarders, importers, and exporters in Amsterdam, and Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Vietnam. The multi-year Vietnam Airlines contract is another string to WFS’s bow in Amsterdam, following on from similar tenders with LATAM Airlines and Saudi Arabian Airlines. WFS already acts as Vietnam Airlines’ cargo handling partner in London Heathrow, in Dublin, and is serviced by WFS Fueling in Hong Kong.
Stephane Scholving, Managing Director of WFS in the Netherlands, stated: “Winning this new contract is a tribute to the responsiveness of our team in Amsterdam and the quality of our cargo handling operations. Vietnam Airlines initially asked for our assistance to handle an urgent flight and their positive experience of working with WFS has ultimately led to this long-term agreement. We now look forward to supporting the airline’s customers and flight operations in Amsterdam and contributing to Vietnam Airline’s growth in the Netherlands.”
Despite ongoing bleak forecasts for travel, (“We forecast travel demand in 2022 will be just about 25% of 2019,” the airline’s CEO, Le Hong Ha, said in a recent Bloomberg interview), Vietnam Airlines JSC is planning to expand its network with the winter schedule, establishing a San Francisco B787/A350 (undecided) connection for the first time starting in late October, having gained experience in carrying out repatriation flights from the U.S. to Vietnam during the pandemic. The revenue from the expected cargo volumes should initially help to cover missing passenger incomes. Vietnam Airlines reconfigured five A350 and three A321 planes over the past year and has plans to set up a cargo unit post pandemic. Possible, therefore, that more WFS contracts are on the books.
A ‘Ghost Ship’ that leaves no trace
Just a couple of days after CFG’s publication on sailing ships making a comeback, Yara International, a Norwegian company, announced that its Yara Birkeland ship is due to set sail in Norway before the end of this year. Billed as “the world's first crewless, zero emissions cargo ship”, the Yara Birkeland was initially scheduled to go into operation in 2020, but COVID-19 delayed the project. Initiated in 2017, the project is a combined effort between Yara and Kongsberg, a global technology company also based in Norway. As “the world's first autonomous and zero-emission container vessel,” the 120 TEU, fully battery powered, Open Hatch Container Feeder can replace 40,000 truck journeys a year, and thus greatly “reduce NOx and CO2 emissions and improve road safety in a densely populated urban area in Norway,” Yara’s press release reads. Though it will still require human interaction for loading and unloading, these too, are planned to go crewless in future, with the introduction of autonomous cranes and straddle carriers to move containers on and off the ship
For now, it will travel between 2 Norwegian ports, Herøya to Brevik, initially with a reduced crew on board to test the autonomous systems and will later be monitored by three onshore data control centers. Yara have no plans at the moment to configure further autonomous ships. Speaking in a CNN interview, a maritime and transport technology professor at Delft University of Technology, Netherlands, Rudy Negenborn pointed out that there are still open technical and legal issues at the current stage of autonomous shipping development. “The Yara Birkeland operates along the Norwegian coast, but if it went further, then it might encounter other territorial regions with perhaps different rules and regulations that need to be met,” he illustrates, asking “Who is liable if something goes wrong?” And things can go wrong: AI technology needs programming in such as way that ships are able to interact with each other and “create paths that are not conflicting," on the one hand. On the other hand, given that there is no manual crew on board to carry out maintenance checks, autonomous ships require built-in self-diagnosing systems that are capable of detecting and fixing problems, or alerting warnings for human assistance.
UPS carries out first COVID-19 vaccine drone deliveries
Building on experience gathered from its first COVID-19 vaccine drone delivery project in Ghana, Africa, as part of a public-private partnership between The UPS Foundation, UPS Flight Forward, Zipline, and Gavi, and having received a “first-of-kind approval from the FAA to carry alkaline and lithium batteries, which are needed to power temperature monitoring devices required by the CDC for COVID-19 vaccine transport,” (according to the UPS press release), UPS last week carried out its first COVID-19 vaccine delivery in the U.S. Working together with Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, UPS Flight Forward now carries out COVID-19 drone deliveries from the company’s central pharmacy to immunization centers located throughout the community, using new drone-sized cold chain packaging developed with Cold Chain Technologies to maintain temperature control at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius. “Like other COVID-19 vaccine shipments handled by UPS, these drone deliveries include a temperature monitoring device required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The autonomous, battery-powered drones produce zero operational emissions and are subjected to less vibration than packages moving by ground transport. They require less insulation and can utilize gel packs instead of dry ice since they spend less time in transit.” The Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist has deployed drones for deliveries of various specialty infusion medicines and lab specimens over the past year. “Infusion medicines are patient-specific and high-cost, with a short shelf life—so delivery by drone within 10 minutes is an ideal solution. Using drones to shuttle vaccines and other pharmaceuticals from its main campus to its network of clinics can improve productivity in its pharmacy by as much as 30%.”
Dan Gagnon, Vice President of Global Marketing for UPS Healthcare, concluded: “Not only are UPS Flight Forward and Cold Chain Technologies demonstrating a more sustainable way to open vaccine access to remote communities, but the implications extend far beyond COVID-19. This new cold chain drone capability is a proof point of opportunity for all our healthcare customers, including clinical trial shipments, cold chain pharmaceuticals and other temperature-sensitive biologics.”
Rise like a phoenix – over in South Africa
In just over three weeks from now, South Africa Airlines is poised to take to the skies once more. Perhaps President Cyril Ramaphosa’s declaration on 31MAY20, on the occasion of the bailout agreement, that he saw a good future for the airline can now begin to prove to be true. Though the airline’s press release makes no mention of cargo, it does disclose that passenger ticket sales opened on 26AUG21, and the first flights will commence on Thursday, 23SEP21. The initial network will include flights from Johannesburg to Cape Town, Accra, Kinshasa, Harare, Lusaka and Maputo, with more destinations to come as the airline ramps up operations in response to market conditions.
Interim CEO Thomas Kgokolo explained: “After months of diligent work, we are delighted that SAA is resuming service […], there is a profound feeling of enthusiasm within Team SAA as we prepare for takeoff, with one common purpose - to rebuild and sustain a profitable airline that once again takes a leadership role among local, continental, and international airlines. The aviation sector is currently going through a testing period, and we are aware of the tough challenges that lie ahead in the coming weeks. We thank South Africa for the support we have received in getting us to where we are today. As we are now poised for takeoff, we see this as a major milestone for SAA and the country.”
Chairman of SAA’s Board, John Lamola, is convinced that the restructuring and relaunch plans will set the airline on a solid flight path: “The airline is restarting with a formidable business case”, he declared.
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