Taking the GSA model to a new dimension
With its "Augmented GSA" concept, ECS Group is completely revolutionizing what it means to be a GSA. Far from the basic sales idea, its vastly enhanced GSA model is based on four key pillars: New Abilities, Technology, Commercial, and Sustainability. The driver for this change are the rapidly increasing digital platforms and developments, ever more complex commodities and regulations, and a growing emphasis on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. “It is clear that companies which do not or cannot adapt to these changes, will struggle to survive,” the press release emphasizes.
“Over the course of the past almost quarter of a century, serving hundreds of airlines of all shapes and sizes across the globe, ECS Group has developed a huge and diverse skill set, and it is this that we have now structured to form our innovative Augmented GSA concept,” Adrien Thominet, Chairman and CEO of ECS Group, explains. “Though we already began developing a number of the individual components during the past 2-3 years, the devastating effect of the pandemic on the aviation industry recently has increased the problems that our concept is designed to solve. As smaller and medium-sized airlines begin to ramp up again, they may face a number of organizational challenges, many of them related to lack of staff. ECS Group can lift the burden to whatever extent the airline wishes. Our Augmented GSA concept goes far beyond the traditional sales activities.”
Each of concept’s four pillars contain sub-modules which can be selected as required by the airline partner. For example the established Total Cargo Management (TCM) solution covering all operational requirements is one of 10 Key Abilities’ modules, along with a data-scanning service, or a quality and safety management component, to name a few others. The Technology pillar is focused on enabling process efficiencies across the transportation chain through specially developed, in-house digital solutions, while the Commercial pillar makes use of those technologies to provide solid business figures and ultimately greater financial success. Environmental, diversity, and social responsibility issues form the Sustainability pillar. ECS Group will be publishing more information on the pillars and components, along with their new brand names, over the coming months.
LATAM Cargo Group goes WebCargo
South America’s largest air cargo operator has opted to go digital on WebCargo. LATAM Cargo Group are the first of the Latin American airlines to share their capacities on the Freightos Group booking platform, giving WebCargo’s 2,500+ forwarders access to their real-time pricing, capacity, and eBookings. The intention to go-live comes after “a year of rapid Digital Air Cargo (DAC) adoption within the industry”, and the roll-out will begin in Q1 2022 in Europe, North America, and Latin America.
Jorge Galvez, VP Marketing and Development at LATAM Cargo remarked: “Through our partnership with WebCargo by Freightos, LATAM Cargo Group is accelerating its efforts to provide customers with visibility and faster cargo bookings, simply and efficiently. This collaboration is an important milestone in LATAM Cargo’s digital roadmap.”
Manuel Galindo, CEO of WebCargo added: “It’s been remarkable to see how quickly the industry has embraced Digital Air Cargo (DAC), with eBookings on WebCargo having grown by more than 10X from last year. We look forward to partnering with LATAM Cargo Group and strengthening eBooking adoption across major global airlines, especially at a time when digital connectivity and transparency is more important than ever.”
WebCargo has seen an incredible 2000% growth over the pandemic. Read CFG’s interview with Zvi Schreiber at the IATA WCS last week.
SmartKargo relies on EDIfly for seamless communication
“SmartKargo has now embedded EDIfly into its end-to-end e-commerce solution to support free encrypted messaging for its airline clients,” the press release reads. SmartKargo enables airlines to benefit from e-commerce business by providing a unique and comprehensive end-to-end digital e-commerce shipping solution used by airlines in Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Norway, and, for example, the cargo subsidiary of Asia’s leading low-cost carrier: Air Asia Cargo. As a cornerstone customer of SmartKargo, it recently implemented the EDI-messaging solution with its ground handling partners in Indonesia. “EDIfly enables our airline customers like Air Asia to securely exchange operational messages with their logistics partners, which is so vital in the fulfillment of e-commerce transactions. SmartKargo is pleased to provide the advanced benefits of EDIfly SM messaging at no cost to customers of our e-commerce solution,” Milind Tavshikar, CEO of SmartKargo, announced.
What the Luxembourg-based Innovative Software SARL’s EDIfly messaging platform does, is enable fast, free, and encrypted messaging between licensed users. Whereas standard messaging platforms are limited in their data quantity, speed, and flexibility, and often costly as based on cost per transaction, EDIfly, which relies on the same addresses already in use by legacy aviation messaging providers such as SITA, ARINC, Cargo-Community-Systems, etc., stands out in the following points: it seeks the fastest internet connection route within seconds, it does not save data en route thus reducing any data security risks, it encrypts data, it is unlimited in the amount of data that can be transferred at any one time, it provides confirmation that the message has been received, and it enables up to 75% cost savings compared to conventional messaging platforms. “In addition to the significant cost reduction over alternative messaging methods, EDIfly provides Air Asia with the utmost in data security for our messaging, and it is based on IATA standards,” Javed Malik, Group COO, AirAsia states. The press release confirms: “EDIfly is the only solution today that can be GDPR and PCI/DSS compliant with certifiable encryption end-to-end, including into the application of the customer. Innovative Software SARL recently joined the IATA EPIC Platform and has now added logistics.cloud to support encrypted connectivity options through its low-cost EDIfly messaging technology based on open-source components. The platforms are facilitating exchanges for a growing number of partners in ground handling and warehouse management, airline trucking, forwarding, logistics, cargo community systems, or even some governments.”
Ingo Röessler, Chief Commercial Officer at EDIfly, told CFG: “Our technology allows you to seamlessly connect your existing systems to modern technology at ultra-low cost, with message encryption and full transparency on performance and message delivery. The initial set-up takes just around 3 hours to set up.”
Cargo iQ’s new head and new vision
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) special interest group, Cargo iQ, announced the appointment of Lothar Moehle as its new Executive Director in a virtual press conference at the IATA WCS on 13OCT21, welcomed its newest member (since SEP21) and recent entrant to the cargo sector, Nigerian aviation services provider Aglow Aviation, and presented the Cargo iQ strategy for the year ahead.
From 01JAN22, Cargo iQ’s 25th anniversary year, industry veteran, Lothar Moehle will head the group. One of the founders of Cargo2000, Cargo iQ’s original name when it was first launched in 1997, he has over forty years’ of air cargo logistics experience, having held senior positions at UPS and DB Schenker. Moehle stated: “Cargo iQ is one of the few organizations in the industry with all stakeholders working together on transparency, visibility and quality improvement, and I join the leadership team as we look to drive the organization in new directions, to achieve our ultimate goal of a quality-driven global supply chain. The last 18 months have taught us, more than ever, to embrace digitalization for a seamless and transparent supply chain. Collaboration is key to us achieving that as an industry, and Cargo iQ provides a vital platform to achieve that collaboration.”
Henrik Ambak, Senior Vice President Cargo Operations Worldwide, Emirates, and Cargo iQ Chair, spoke of its renewed vision for 2022: “In 2021, the Cargo iQ management team and working groups have been busy laying the groundwork for the organization, and 2022 will focus on the implementation work, collaborating directly with members and sharing best practices.” Five key objectives have been defined to support Cargo iQ members in implementing the IATA endorsed Master Operating Plan (MOP) which defines the standard end-to-end process of transporting air cargo. They are: achieving 100% reporting and full transparency; ensuring Cargo iQ processes are fully implemented as members' Quality Management System (QMS); enhancing adoption of the Cargo iQ methodology through membership growth and retention; accelerating the development cycle for new and revised processes, ensuring that Cargo iQ stays relevant and makes use of emerging technologies; and ensuring that members want to be involved and truly feel that the Cargo iQ processes are their processes.
More Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) freight forwarders are to be recruited to the Cargo iQ community, as Kerstin Strauss, Vice President Air Logistics Operations, Global Air Logistics, Kuehne + Nagel, and Cargo iQ Vice-Chair announced: “Cargo iQ will be implementing its previously trialed SME solution to offer improved planning and control capabilities to small and medium sized forwarders who work with member airlines on a small-scale or regional basis.”
FitsAir selects Aero Africa Sub Saharan as GSA
FitsAir has chosen Aero Africa Sub Saharan (Pty) Ltd South Africa, a branch of the Aero Africa air cargo management group, as its Cargo General Sales Agent (GSA). 1997-incepted FitsAir Cargo describes itself as “a pioneer in the air cargo industry, connecting cargo to and from every corner of the globe and serving the world for over 2 decades with our extended outreach” and has developed a wide range of air freight solutions over the years. It works with its own mixed fleet as well as exclusively contracted charters, and has access to a large interline network “supported by special prorate agreements with over 150 partner carriers including prime carriers and Road Feeder Services, utilizing its 319 prefix.” Further “FitsAir is a member of the IATA Clearing house & the Multilateral interline Traffic agreement (MITA). FitsAir’s AWB is registered with customs in most parts of the world including almost all airports in India and in the USA, FitsAir has also satisfied the advanced commercial information requirements of the Canada Border Services Agency”.
“We are extremely pleased to announce this appointment. This newly struck partnership further strengthens our neutral wholesale and airline brokerage products, and widens our reaching coverage to and from the South East Asia, India sub-continent and beyond. FitsAir’s interline partnership with over hundred leading airlines, will enable us to offer our clients uplift solutions with reliability to and from hard-to-reach airports and complex destinations. Our professional and experienced team will work continuously to position Africa as an important point of sales for the airline’s international network” Jade Da Costa, CCO Aero Africa, stated.
Musaab Kassim, Director FitsAir, commented: “We are very pleased to be working with such an energetic partner like Aero Africa and are looking forward to closely collaborating.”
SAL and Qatar Airways Cargo shake hands
Air cargo handler, SAL Saudi Logistics Services (SAL), has been appointed as Qatar Airways Cargo’s ground handler at Saudi Arabia’s main airports, including Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, and Medina. The agreement was signed earlier this month and fulfils another milestones in SAL’s strategic growth plan to “increase the number of partnerships with leading regional and global airlines that have high cargo shipping capacities.”
Hesham Alhussayen, CEO of SAL, commented: “This agreement will enhance logistical operations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Moreover, given Qatar Airways’ global reach and substantial shipping capacity, we look forward to providing it with cargo ground handling services to the highest international standards. This new partnership reflects our growing network of international and domestic relationships across airlines, regulators, government agencies, and global industry organizations. Over the year and a half, SAL has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by boosting our operational efficiencies to meet the unprecedented demands of handling a wide variety of emergency, medical, and other life essential goods to those who need them most. This journey reinforced our belief in the power of partnerships and, as such, we have signed several cooperation agreements to expand our ground handling and logistics services even further.”
Guillaume Halleux, Chief Officer Cargo at Qatar Airways commented: “Through our agreement with SAL Saudi Logistics Services, we will be offering fast and efficient handling for all types of cargo including cool chain cargo at Saudi Arabia’s main airports. SAL and Qatar Airways Cargo share a common vision of customer centricity and service excellence.”
ANA launches “SAF Flight Initiative”
Billed as Japan's largest and 5-Star airline for nine consecutive years, All Nippon Airways (ANA) is a seasoned market leader continually looking for ways to improve. Sustainability is big on the agenda and it has now launched its “SAF Flight Initiative” which aims to promote sustainability, reduce CO2 emissions, adhere to the guidelines established by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and meet ANA Group’s environmental commitments announced in APR21. Together with partners such as Nippon Express Co., Ltd., Kintetsu World Express, Inc. and Yusen Logistics Co., Ltd. who have already agreed to participate in the SAF Flight Initiative, and with which ANA conducted Japan’s first SAF-powered cargo flight on 29SEP21, ANA intends to promote and expand the usage and production of SAF, and jointly work on sustainably improving the logistics value chain.
Yuji Hirako, President & CEO of ANA, said: “ANA has long been a leader in advancing sustainability in the airline industry, and this fuel initiative further demonstrates our ability to meet the demands of society. As SAF will play a major role in reducing carbon emissions, we will continue looking for ways to accelerate its adoption. At ANA, we recognize that preserving our environment requires that we build broad coalitions committed to achieving a common goal, and we will continue to work with partners to help them reduce their carbon footprint in line with our own ambitious targets.”
Hovering around the warehouse, keeping an eye on things
dnata has been working together with US-based technology start-up, Gather AI, to come up with an autonomous drone solution allowing it to digitize acceptance and warehouse inventory processes by monitoring shipments. The drones have been operating at dnata’s warehouses at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) in the USA. Paired to a tablet device providing live inventory data, the drones map the environment in the warehouse, collect inventory data, count cases, measure temperature, and read barcodes using only their cameras, without the need for any additional active infrastructure. All collected data can be viewed directly on the tablet or the web, via a user-friendly application. The drones are 99.8% accurate and, since they are able to operate at temperatures as low as -10°C, can also be deployed in dnata’s state-of-the-art cool chain facilities, too. The company plans to gradually roll out the drones across its global cargo network in the next years.
Guillaume Crozier, dnata's Divisional Vice President for Operations and Product Development, said: “We are excited to introduce leading-edge drone technology in our operations to take cargo handling to the next level. Our partner's autonomous drones and inventory management platform provides greater transparency across our entire operations. This new technology, combined with our strong cargo product expertise, enables us to significantly enhance efficiency and mitigate the risk of revenue leakage throughout the customer journey. We continue to adopt the latest technologies to deliver world-class value for our partners at every stage of the cargo handling process.”
Sankalp Arora, Gather AI's Co-Founder and Chief Robotics Engineer, said: “Our drones gather label reads, inventory counts, temperature and volumetric data using AI, providing traceability across operations while providing exceptions against the facility inventory software. This transparency coupled with near-real-time visibility brings the power of analytics to physical spaces, minimizing revenue leakage while helping develop trust across operations. However, it is dnata's dedication to bringing this transparency to their customers, combined with their insights in the air cargo industry that has been critical in applying our technology to the air cargo sector with a compelling ROI.”
20 years and cruising
Azerbaijan’s well-known cargo charter carrier, Silk Way Airlines turned 20 on 09OCT21. You could say “Time flies when you’re doing well!” The Silk Way Group member started out in 2001 as a passenger sidekick with three crews initially simulator trained at the Ukrainian Uzin airfield in 1996, and retrained at the Zhuliany training and technical center near Kiev. This has since grown to a 440-strong company, all trained to the highest standards with internationally recognized qualifications. Since its first international cargo flight, carried out with an Ilyushin IL-76 (registration number 4K-AZ19) on the Baku-Le Bourget-Bagram route in October 2001 - the first civilian flight to Afghanistan since the start of Operation Enduring Freedom – Silk Way Airlines’ fleet has grown to five Ilyushin IL-76 aircraft. “Thanks to their cargo compartment equipment, Ilyushin cargo planes are the optimal solution for transportation of bulky, high-value or dangerous goods, as well as oil and gas equipment, self-propelled equipment and outsize cargo.” Together, they have served a network connection more than 130 countries across the globe, flown around 70 million nautical miles (ca. 129,640,000 km), and transported 600,000 tons of cargo.
The airline stands out due to its compassionate approach to air cargo. In line with its mission from the outset to “contribute to the economic independence and regional leadership of Azerbaijan,” it honored customer rates at the start of the pandemic despite capacity scarcity driving cargo rates sky-high, and it often carries out “delivery of special and critical freight to regions completely cut off from road networks, to airfields with poor or virtually nonexistent infrastructure, without ground support or equipment for loading and unloading operations”.
Silk Way Airlines Director Mr. Rahim Islamov said: “Our most important achievements over the last two decades have been the extensive experience we have gained, as well as overcoming a range of challenges along the way. Thanks to this, today, Silk Way Airlines provides its services not only in the Caspian region but also far beyond. There has undoubtedly always been a strong team of professionals behind this twenty-year success story.”
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